Jónsi brings us all back to our epic childhoods on Go

With Go, the first ever solo release from Jónsi, we get to see how much of Sigur Rós is his doing. The answer to that, of course, is a good amount. Go is full of massive, epic declarations fitting for the Icelandic post-rock tastemakers, although, at the same time, a bit of the mystery seems to be gone.

That’s not a bad thing, though. Where Sigur Rós’ () was pretty but impenetrable, Go‘s second track, “Animal Arithmetic,” is a fast romp through stream-of-conscious, English lyricism. “Wake up, comb my hair / Making food disappear / Riding bikes, making out / Elephants swimming down,” he sings. The song is “Hoppipolla” transcribed to straight pop. The song doesn’t go near four minutes in length; it’s backed by clattering, unorthodox percussion (much like the rest of the album); a flute darts in and out of the arrangement like a buzzing bee.

So it becomes obvious that Sigur Rós effectively curbs the childlike instincts of its singer. There is no skipping through flowers or eating ice cream on “Olsen Olsen,” but there’s plenty of it when the Jónsi is left to his own devices. Much of the album combines this kiddie joy with the massive arrangements Jónsi is known for. “Around Us” manages to be both huge and optimistic; “Boy Lilikoi” and “Go Do” are head-bobbing pop songs.

And the few times Jónsi reaches out of his theme park (made of candy!) to reach for a more serious note, he often succeeds. “Kolniður” broods until its climax, where the singer’s falsetto reaches awesome heights. “Tornado” is a slow, militaristic tune that wouldn’t be terribly out of place on a Sigur Rós album, English singing aside. Closer “Hengilás” returns to quiet, string-based ambiance; it’s a fitting end to a loud, clattering album.

But while the album is loud and clattering, it’s beautiful. It’s Jónsi recognizing his strengths and putting out a stunning record. One or two songs seems like filler, sure — “Sinking Friendships” goes by without much affect — but it doesn’t really take away from the power of Go. It’s the best album Jónsi could have made in this situation, and it lives up to the highest of expectations.

Jónsi – “Boy Lilikoi” [MP3]

Jónsi – “Go Do” [MP3]

Purchase Go

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