Sigur Rós Valtari

Sigur RósValtari
Valtari is the Icelandic post-rockers' first album in four years and their sixth full studio album to date. It is also one their most ethereal and subdued releases, eschewing both the quiet-loud-quiet template of their earlier work and the folky catchiness of 2008's Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust in favour of more ambient, dreamlike soundscapes. Dominated by layered choral singing and sparse piano, lead vocalist Jónsi takes centre stage. The album teeters on the edge, but the tension never breaks, even with the crescendo of third track "Varúð," which despite coming close to bubbling over never does. The result is a collection of songs that could feel like a frustrating tease if it wasn't so emotive and immersive. Valtari might not be Sigur Rós's greatest work, but it is an album of subtle beauty and remarkable restraint that deserves to be heard, although with its autumnal tones it may be more appropriate as listening for later in the year. (XL)