Sigur Rós are almost certainly one of the most expansive and awe-inspiring band of the last decade. Combining post-rock with classical, many of their songs are written in a fictional language, simply using whatever sounds lead singer Jónsi felt like making at the time. Most others are sung in Icelandic, with only their band’s most recent album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust featuring English-language songs. Words are unimportant to Sigur Rós; melody and composition are at the forefront of every record they produce. Able to captivate without lyrics, theirs is a strange, beguiling sound which manages to evoke the most powerful emotion and communicate both joy and despair effortlessly and brilliantly.
All of which sounds a little grandiose, even pompous. But just as words seem to fail the band, so too they often fail their descriptors, and describing the Icelandic group’s music in words is very hard indeed. Jónsi, who released a magnificent solo album earlier this year, has a peculiar but enthralling vocal style which is more like an instrument than a voice, and the band themselves are so in tune with each other’s musical ability than the group do not rehearse in the normal sense: they simply agree to meet at a certain place, bring their instruments, and play until a song forms.
Yet despite the complexity and unusualness of the band’s style, there has rarely – likely never – been a band whose audial and visual visions gel as well as Sigur Rós. Perhaps it is their undefinable, ethereal sound which meshes with video so well, perhaps the same elusive brilliance they create their music with helps to make music videos, perhaps it’s that they come from the isolated, mysterious nation of Iceland, perhaps they simply know how to speak without speaking. In any case, their videos are truly wonderful to watch, from the superb ‘Sæglópur’ below to the joyous ‘Hoppípolla’ to the idealistic ‘Glósoli’. So singular and brilliant is their visual skill, in fact, that they directed a film – Heima – which contains so many breathtaking sequences that it should be distributed by the Icelandic tourist board.
Sæglópur’s video is a simple tale of friendship and loss; much like the band, it’s beautifully composed, breathtakingly creative and utterly inimitable.