I first heard the music of Jónsi this summer as I was perusing through a bookstore in Portland, Ore. The poignant falsetto voice and compelling beat made such an impression on me that I temporarily paused my book search to soak up the music. “This sounds like an English-speaking, one-man version of Sigur Ros,” I thought. I was right. Well, mostly.
Jónsi is typically recognized as the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, a group that formed in 1994. The band has since gathered a cult following, known for their beautifully spacious songs. However, after their announcement of an indefinite hiatus in January, Jónsi began working on a solo album. Go, released in April, was well received by Sigur Ros fans and critics alike.
Much of Sigur Ros’ sound is replicated in Go. Stylistically, the songs are crafted in the same way—composed of ethereal falsetto vocals and swirling orchestra sections. However, Jónsi distinguishes his sound by shifting away from Sigur Ros’ typically tender melodies and towards more bass-pumping, feel-good anthems in Go. He also strays from the cryptic, though musically beautiful, Icelandic language and attempts some tracks in English. At times, his language limitations result in empty lyrics like, “We should always know/that we can do anything,” in the opening track of Go. But the complex musicality of Go certainly compensates for any lyrical shortcomings.
91.1 The Globe has been featuring songs from Go for the past few weeks, but you can check out Jónsi’s website for a full listen. You also have the opportunity to see Jónsi in concert. As a part of his North American tour, Jónsi will be performing with Mountain Men on Friday, Nov. 5 at The Fillmore in Detroit, Mich. Regardless, whether you’re looking for relaxing homework music or a feel-good jam, Jónsi’s Go is the album for you.