For those who never thought they’d see the words “double live album” mentioned in the same sentence as Sigur Rós, behold the arrival of Inni, a song-for-song relay (sans one omission) of the Reykjavík quartet’s 2008 performance at London’s Alexandra Palace. As uncharacteristic as this release seems for a band that’s long defied typical rock tropes (like, for instance, overstuffed “live in concert” collections) the impression listeners will ultimately take away from Inni is glacial, pristine, atmospheric, crystalline, and any other Iceland-esque descriptor relevant to the band’s body of work. In other words, Inni is Sigur Rós through and through, and any assumption that the album is incongruous with the band’s milieu is immediately disproven by the slow, haunting strains of “Ný Batterí” that open the first disc. Sigur Rós proves to be just as masterful in concert as they are in the studio, and that goes twofold for leadman Jonsi: The demure singer’s glassy, adrongynous voice is captured beautifully amid Alexandra Palace’s cavernous acoustics on tracks like “Sæglópur” and “Glósóli.”
Inni‘s problem is that it provides very little in the way of a raison d’être, arriving at a rather mystifying time during the band’s indefinite hiatus and at the cusp of Jonsi’s burgeoning solo career. As lovely as the album often is, it never quite gets around to justifying its existence, nor relieving the lingering doubts about Sigur Rós’s dubious future. What purpose does reminding listeners of the band’s rock grandeur serve? Is this a tease at something greater to come, or merely a strangely timed memento? It seems almost phillistine to suggest that a group as artistically pure as Sigur Rós would attempt to cash in on their legacy, but that, at least, is a coherent reason for unveiling an album that plays like a predictable greatest-hits rundown from a three-year-old concert recording.
Inni is beautiful and alluring, yes, but ultimately a recycled bit of nostalgia likely to please very few. Those who still yearn to see the band live will hardly find any satisfaction from hearing the Alexandra Palace show on record, and with only one new offering in “Lúppulagid,” it does little to lessen the sting of a rumored fresh studio album being unceremoniously scrapped shortly before Inni‘s announcement. In the end, the album proves to be more of a curio than any kind of celebratory reunion with Iceland’s biggest band.