In which I rave about Jón Þór Birgisson

If you haven’t heard already, Sigur Ros– that little band from Iceland with a few hit singles, indie street cred, and a hell of a lot of placements in American film and television– is on indefinite hiatus.

They’re finished. At least for now.

You may also recall that lead singer Jón Þór Birgisson can sing like nobody else. Dude can hit octaves you couldn’t, even if you had that little snip-snip surgery the church used to perform on male choir soloists.

After a musical dalliance last year with his boyfriend that culminated in the somewhat nebulous (read: monotonous) duo project, Riceboy Sleeps, “Jónsi” (as he calls himself) has finally recorded a solo debut.

Called Go, it drops on April 5, 2010. You should buy it.

While Sigur Ros alternated between post-rock and pop, ultimately choosing the latter, Jónsi determinedly makes pop music here. The melodies are rich and layered, rewarding multiple listens. Production plays a big role in making each track sound crisp and clean. Instruments fight for dominance, but Jónsi’s voice triumphs, even when his lyricism amounts to stuff like this:

“I wonder if I’m allowed to ever be free.”

“Go, sing too loud. Make your voice break. Sing it out.”

“You run, you’re free, climb endless trees.”

No, there’s nothing wrong with these lines. But they make it easy to see Jónsi as a whiny existentialist who ultimately embraces optimism to its cheesiest extent. He’s more than that. He’s an abstract sound painter who treats this 40-minute pop album like the soundtrack to an “epic” film that hasn’t been made yet.

Because Parlophone Records doesn’t like embedded videos, I can only link to the video for Jonsi’s lead single (“Go Do”) here. Now, do your thing and go check it out. Oh, and save your money. When this comes out, you’re going to want to pick it up.


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