Review : Jonsi - Go
sputnikmusicJonsi Birgisson doesn’t do sadness- not anymore, at least. Since Sigur Ros’ landmark ( ) album, Jonsi’s been riding a wave of emotional optimism, rarely touching minor keys while frolicking endlessly in a field of general merriment. At the very least, he’s pretty much abandoned the affecting weight that elevated early Sigur Ros work to “post-rock standard” status. Takk and Með Suð i Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust marked this shift; the dreary, glacial post rock of Agaetis Byjrun and ( ) was eschewed in favor of bouncy, peppy indie folk, isolation substituted for joy. Similarly, Jonsi’s Riceboy Sleeps project drowned itself in happiness, though with droning major chords and gently morphing clouds of sound instead of triumphant trumpets and tinkling glockenspiels. The degree of success regarding the last two projects varied; Riceboy Sleeps and Með Suð were more interesting than they were quality, if only because the sonic shift in each project didn’t quite mesh with Jonsi’s pixie-like persona. Perhaps the post-Go hindsight helps one recognize that clash between art and artist, because unlike his recent output, Go is something that feels like it’s exactly what Jonsi wanted it to be.
Everything about this project screams gayest thing ever. That’s why it works. Ridiculously ornate orchestrations? Fantastic! Simple upbeat English lyrics? Endearing! That homoerotic cover? Oddly arousing! Jonsi sounds confident in what he’s putting out (one has to be to pull the kind of production bullshit he does here), finally embracing the unabashed joy that’s been secretly lurking beneath his quivering falsetto and lazy eye for years. His voice seems marvelously suited to symphonies, soaring over Nico Muhly’s intricate compositions. On tracks like “Boy Lilikoi,” “Go Do,” and “Around Us,” the symphonic orchestra that was questionably deployed on “Ara Batur” is brilliantly realized in a pop context. Remember how “Viva La Vida” was the greatest song ever a couple of years ago? We’re talking this kind of epic here, people. Go is as flamboyant an album as albums come, decked to the brim with gloss and sheen in the name of happiness, hitting a peak and, for better or worse, riding it out for nine tracks of unabated fun....full text
ThephoenixTo the Sigur Rós fans still weeping over the band’s decision to scrap their latest full-length and take an indefinite paternity leave: turn Ágætis Byrjun off for a minute or two and dry your tears with Jónsi’s uplifting solo debut. Then you can turn it back on and resume weeping.
Drawing from Sigur Rós’s penchant for avian imagery, Jónsi has tried to assign himself the role of a bird (he even sports all kinds of feathers in the video for the single “Go Do”) fleeing its cage — a huge, legendary, post-rock cage. Liberated from the harrowing eight-minute epics and fetus cover art that sheltered him, he delivers tightened symphonic climaxes that arrive quickly and joyfully. The foremost frontman of Iceland has stuck with his trademark falsettos, but he’s abandoned his native tongue, sighing and squealing mostly in Basic English. (“I wonder if I’m allowed/Just ever to be,” he sings on a Philip Glass–flavored “Tornado.”)
The disc is an appropriate soundtrack for springtime and new beginnings, and this Sigur Rós–lite of a solo project does carry Jónsi across the equinox without his bandmates-turned-family-men. But it sounds more like the work of a chick hatching than a free bird....full text
MusicomhThe last Sigur Rós album was seen as the band's most commercial offering to date. The arrangements seemed to strive towards something that could be loosely termed as "pop". Band leader Jónsi Birgisson even sang in English on the final track All Alright. This ruffled a few feathers amongst those who preferred the abstract crooning that came with the nonsensical lyrics that Sigur Rós had employed down the years.
Some may find the use of English on this, Jónsi's debut solo album, abhorrent. Others may welcome the opportunity to gain a more direct insight into the meanings of these songs. Either way, Jónsi 's delivery is such that it's easy to get lost in what he's doing with his voice rather than what is being said.
Those with an ear to the ground will have already caught the wonderful Boy Lilikoi, a song which is naïve in its approach to life and succeeds with a flurry of childlike innocence. It grows and swells with warmth, imploring those lucky enough to hear it to enjoy life before it is too late, with "use your life, the world goes and flutters by" being the key refrain. The vocal harmonies collapse over each other in seemingly endless fashion, drums thunder and skip in equal measure, and flutes are playfully light as they flutter around the ever growing strings. Has 'pop' music ever sounded this wonderful?...full text
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