Monday, 14 December 2009

Electricity Wires Are Down.

So, I have a throat infection, meaning I'm feeling roughly like an enormous pile of crap with a fever. So, I actually have three writeups outstanding - Husbands & Wives, Secrets & Lies and In The Loop - but I'm probably not going to get onto them until tomorrow, if I feel any better. I probably will have added another (I'm thinking Gerry) to my list by then, depending on how the night goes...

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about Boy Lilikoi (here and here), considering I've been listening to it virtually non-stop on repeat since I picked it up last week. (Seriously, I think my iTunes play count for the song is going to be somewhere up near 100 plays in, what, six days?)

I'm thinking this is probably the song with the most likelihood of being a radio-friendly hit that Jónsi's voice has ever been heard of (by me at least.) Obviously, the is the first solo outing of his, but I'm going to go with Sigur Rós as his back catalogue for the sake of actually being able to make an argument. Cool? Cool.

The last Sigur Rós release Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust from last year was easily their 'poppiest' record to date, not necessarily meaning that they were empty throwaway Britney dance tracks (not that there's anything wrong with that...), as they had a bit of a rockier and momentous feel, not only more than Britney, but more than their previous work. Yes, they retained the pretty highlights really brought to the fore in Takk... ('pretty' is the only word that I think appropriately describes this - ever since the 05 release, I've associated it with pretty), but they shortened many of the running times (with Gobbledigook clocking in at just over 3 minutes, Inní mér syngur vitleysingur coming in a minute longer, and Við spilum endalaust right in between), whereas the vast majority of their previous songs across all albums are of epic length (excluding intro tracks on Ágætis Byrjun and Takk..., and interstitial moments on a few of the albums, the only song I could see of a similarly radio-friendly play length (4 minutes) was Avalon off their second record, which could really be regarded as an extended outro anyway, especially taken within the context of the album as a whole.)

In addition to merely shortening the tracks (will I should note still feel entirely complete), the first two tracks off off Með suð (Gobbledigook and Inní mér syngur vitleysingur) have a much, much more upbeat feel to them. They both have ripping percussion tracks, repetitive song structures (like pop songs! Verse, chorus, verse!) of a sort (less so the latter track, I guess... I could argue it, but I won't) and more accessible melodic sounds in the vocals. Gone are the long drawn out vowels, replaced with shorter narrative poetry.

Boy Lilikoi, however, I think goes one step further. Yes, it is longer (though at 4.5 minutes, a more radio friendly edit could quite easily be achieved), and the orchestral arrangements are much more on show, I think, than Gobbledigook and IMSV (that one's too hard to type out each time), but there is one key difference, and it does sound a little pathetic.

That difference? It's in English. I love the sound of Sigur Rós with their use of Icelandic, a touch of English (in All Alright, with influences on the next language) and Hopelandic. I really love it. It makes the experience, for me, so much more internal. For the most part I have no idea what they're saying. I can't sing along, just make sounds that approximate what hit my eardrums. And maybe if I could understand the language I would feel differently about the pop aspect of their previous releases, as I think a major element of pop music (please note that I'm using 'pop' very broadly as 'popular' so including all manner of indie, rock, hell, metal if you want) is its ability to get stuck in your head, and that's very hard when you don't know the words. I had Paparazzi and Poker Face stuck in my head a lot in Iceland pre-Lilikoi download, and they are two of the biggest pop songs of the last twelve months, right?

The percussion behind Lilikoi is epic. It just keeps coming through, backing up every aspect of the foregrounded musical aspects. The flute (I'm sure it's not a flute, I've never been able to tell those instruments apart - someone will correct me I'm sure) recreates that prettiness I spoke of, but is backed up by the rollicking percussive movements. Jónsi combines his trademark falsetto with standard range to give us something more akin to IMSV, but... I don't know... it just feels like it could break into the mainstream, though probably on an 'indie breakthrough' scale. Not that they need the help. Without radio friendly tracks, the last two Sigur Rós records both went top 20 in Australia, and I recall hearing that Með suð was a in the top five of the European charts after release. They have an incredibly loyal following that seems to get bigger with every album (a mammoth celebrity fanbase probably doesn't hurt - Brad Pitt, anyone? Tom Cruise?) so I imagine Go, as Jónsi's debut album shall be known come release late March 2010, will have a similar initial response. The difference is, if it can break through, those already strong figures could make Jónsi individually and Sigur Rós as an entity a major player on a global scale.

This could all be wishful thinking coming from my love for the band and Jónsi. Like, serious love. They can do no wrong in my eyes. They could strangle kittens, drink their blood and turn the furs into snowshoes, and as long as they continued to make beautiful music, I'd maintain my altar to them in my house. But I think there is some, slight basis in fact here. I do. Slight.

Also, please excuse this for being rambling, overlong and probably very unclear. I have a fever. Don't like it, fuck off.

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