For two decades they have created a highly atmospheric sound that dozens of bands have emulated, but on their new album, Kveikur, veteran Icelandic band Sigur Rós has gone through its own sonic transformation.

Last year founding keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson left the group to pursue other projects, which forced the remaining three members — singer/guitarist Jon Thor Birgisson, bassist Georg Holm and drummer Orri Pall Dyrason — to reinvent their sound. For them, Sveinsson’s departure represented a loss, but also a creative reinvigoration.

What emerged is an album that maintains the music’s ethereal qualities, with Birgisson’s vocals soaring high. But on Kveikur, the dreaminess turns into more of a nightmare, as dense bass lines and thundering rhythms paint a darker, more dystopian picture. “Brimstone,” “Storm,” “Electric Current” and “Shelter” are just a few translations of the telling song titles.

It’s a marked shift from the quieter beauty of Valtari, which was released just one year ago, but it’s a powerful sound that’s winning broad acclaim, selling out venues on the group’s current world tour and even landing Sigur Rós a coveted spot on The Simpsons.

Kveikur is being officially released June 18, but you can stream it here through June 17.

  • Sigur Rós - Kveikur

posted by Jennifer Van Evra on Jun 07, 2013