Even if he hadn't created some of the most vivid film music of the 20th and 21st centuries, Yann Tiersen's music would probably be called "filmic." In both his scores and stand-alone albums, the artful way he blends his flair for atmosphere with memorable melodies and instrumentation lends itself to vivid storytelling, something he explores beautifully on his eighth album ∞ (Infinity). Largely recorded in Iceland and inspired by that country as well as the Faroe Islands, much of the album evokes Nordic post-rock while reflecting Tiersen's distinctive touch. "Slippery Stones" and "In Our Minds" echo Múm's ability to sound anthemic, childlike, and dark at the same time. The brassy "Grønjørð" features Tiersen's bandmate Ólavur Jákupsson singing the praises of the Faroe Islands' verdant and volcanic landscape in his native Faroese. "A Midsummer Evening" harnesses Tiersen's fondness for toy instruments into widescreen orchestral psych-rock that captures the surreal joyousness of a long dusk and balmy night. All of this makes ∞ (Infinity) a more cohesive set than its predecessor Skyline. Tiersen expertly uses the album's united motifs and instrumentation to contrast its expansive sounds, such as the title track's sweeping drones, and intimate lyrics like "The Crossing"'s "just hold my hand." Stories are woven through the songs in unexpected ways: "Steinn" and "Ar Maen Bihan" tell the same hypnotic tale of nature and circularity in Icelandic and Tiersen's native Breton, respectively. However, he saves ∞ (Infinity)'s most impressive storytelling for last: "Meteorites," a collaboration with Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat, explores love's intimacy and vastness, moving from merging cells to soaring through the universe. Moffat's burr brings a frankness to lyrics like "this is our rom-com" and gives voice to all the heartbroken, searching, and joyous moods dancing through Tiersen's music over the years. A movie unto itself, "Meteorites" might wink at Tiersen's status as a composer for film, but it's too exquisite to be a joke; it elevates what was already a strong collection into some of his best work. Given its all-encompassing title, it's fitting that ∞ (Infinity) is one of Tiersen's most ambitious albums, but its grand scale only magnifies his music's heartfelt beauty.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares