It’s hard to articulate exactly how the latest Sigur Rós album, Takk…, is more “accessible” than its three predecessors, considering that those albums were performed largely in “Hopelandic,” which was apparently an amalgam of the band’s native Icelandic, Esperanto, and Anne Heche’s made-up space language. Those who found hipster fave Ágætis Byrjun or its Grammy-nominated follow-up, ( ), too precious to take at face value were maybe a bit too cynical in their approach to Sigur Rós, but it’s hard to say those people were entirely wrong either. What makes Takk… more accessible, though, isn’t that it’s performed in Icelandic (which would be a point of entry for a rather small population), it’s that the music sounds a whole lot like the first two Coldplay albums or Death Cab for Cutie’s major label debut Plans. Which is to say, Takk… often sounds like a faithful reproduction of the outsized pop of Radiohead’s The Bends. It’s entirely possible that Jon Thor Birgisson’s lyrics are every bit as insipid as what Ben Gibbard spewed on “What Sarah Said” or what Chris Martin whined on “Fix You,” but Sigur Rós has never been “about” the content of their songs as much as their forms and structures. Like a well-employed film score, the ebbs and flows of a track like “Se Lest” or the 10-plus-minute “Milano” (it’s worth noting, though, that Takk… is the first Sigur Rós album on which more than half of the songs clock in at under four minutes) result in a range of emotional responses as the music threatens to disappear into the ether at one moment, then roars back with a full-on orchestral swell in the next. As music that’s beautiful simply for the sake of being beautiful, Takk… is an unqualified success.
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