Iceland has been pummeled by the current financial crisis. We thought we had it bad, but for the love of Reykjavík, won’t anyone think about Lýðveldið Ísland? Despite economic disarray, there’s still plenty to boast about: renewable energy, an openly gay prime minister (arguably the first in the world), and some of the coolest music since Sweden started churning out danceable pop. With the obvious Björk, as well as múm and Sigur Rós, there’s some steep competition for internationally-acclaimed Icelandic tunesters. Now there’s a new kid on the block: Sindri Mar Sigfusson, also known as Sin Fang Bous.
Reluctantly calling his music with his major project Seabear “folk pop”, Sindri’s solo album Clangour deviates with a more experimental vibe. Here’s a man who refuses to be boxed in by definitions. Playing all of the instruments, Sindri fulfills a mission to “listen to his crazy voice”. The result is an upbeat, textured combination of noises: lightly strummed guitar, banjo, piano, percussion, recorders, video game-inspired effects, playful vocals (all his), whistles, and a myriad of other sounds. ‘Catch the Light’ – the standout track – features a watery, dreamy layering and references to cowboys. I couldn’t ask for much more, really. And the music video for ‘Clangour and Flutes’ is like a modern, sketched version of Sledgehammer.
There are a few moments with premature or oddly syncing sound effects, and some too-stark transitions that interrupt the smoothness of the album. But in the end, the roughness adds to the charm. I was waiting for another lush one-man-band disc like Miracle Fortress’s Five Roses, and maybe Clangour is it for 2009. Mér líkar það vel. Nothing better to melt the chill of an icy recession with lush layering, witty writing, and catchy choruses.
By the way, check out the Seabear MySpace for a soft cover of The Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’. Sentimentalism gives the tune a whole different meaning.