Jonsi: GO


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Sigur Ros has never been never a band afraid of taking artistic risks. From singing in imaginary languages to bowing the electric guitar, the Icelandic quartet has explored distant corners of the post-rock universe with their dream-like albums.

With his band on hiatus and his past success looming behind him, lead singer Jonsi Birgisson will release his first solo album Go tomorrow.

When recording Go, perhaps his renown prevented Jonsi from abandoning the same tropes that earned him his previous fame. Instead of mapping out new aural landscapes, the singer settles into the platitudes of his vocal virtuosity.

Go sounds like Jonsi reaching into an Urban Outfitters fedora instead of an old hat. The welling violins on "Kolnidur" are all too reminiscent of Bjork's Homogenic and the bouncy percussion of "Animal Arithmetic" recalls Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion. Jonsi seems to make no attempt to surprise listeners with his bag of indie music tricks.

Despite the lack of imagination, Jonsi's unique falsetto and undeniable songwriting talent save Go from falling into a cliche abyss.

In February, the singer performed an acoustic version of the song "Go Do" on WNYC's radio program, Soundcheck.

Hearing Jonsi hit the high notes accompanied by his ukulele alone is like watching the singer balance a crystal vase on his head while simultaneously walking a tightrope. He does not falter and it becomes clear that the safety landing of composer Nico Muhly's baroque string arrangements on the album version is not entirely needed.

Go is by all means listenable, but perhaps the album would have been more than just good study music if Jonsi's voice was given more focus in lieu of Muhly's intrusive instrumentation.

Contact Nastia Voynovskaya at [email protected]

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