Anyone expecting Jónsi's solo debut to sound anything much like his work as vocalist with Sigur Rós might be a little shocked. (Only a little, though.) Unlike the sound of the band, which is akin to being enveloped in a great misty cloud of shifting tones and textures, listening to Go is, for the most part, like being caught in a storm of color saturated hailstones. From the very beginning, Jónsi and his collaborators, composer Nico Muhly, Alex Somers (who was half of the Jónsi & Alex project), and Samuli Kosminen pepper the listener with shards of sunny strings and woodwinds, spools of chopped-up guitars and keyboards, all sorts of digital manipulations, and above it all, layers of Jónsi's reliably enthralling voice. The songs alternate between tracks like "Animal Arithmetic" and "Go Do," which sound like the bubbling soundtrack to an awesome training montage in a film where pixies are training to battle fairies; atmospheric tunes like "Sinking Friendships" and "Grow Till Tall" that drift by like puffy clouds; and string-heavy ballads like "Kolniður" and "Hengilás." These ballads anchor the record just enough to keep it from blowing away in the slightest wind and give it some emotional heft. One could argue that not every record necessarily needs this kind of weight, and that it would have been more fun to add two more songs that spun like out-of-balance tops, but since Jónsi does ballads really well, it’s hard to complain too much. It’s also hard to imagine a giddier song than "Boy Lilikoi," which swells and shimmers in a shower of flutes, bells, strings, and almost unbearably sugary vocals. Listening to it is like biting into a jelly-filled donut; only the jelly turns out to be a rainbow. While the whole album doesn’t quite deliver this kind of intense listening experience, enough of it does to make Go an essential addition to the collection of anyone who likes their music to come in colors. If Sigur Rós never releases another album, as long as Jónsi makes records this thrilling, it’ll be OK.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra