by Hipster Hamster Hipster Hamster
April 13, 2010

Jónsi’s Go shares a lot with a typical nine-year-old boy. “Go Do,” track one from the Sigur Rós front man’s latest solo venture, starts off with an excess of energy, fidgeting about and refusing to sit still before jumping head-first into a box drum-led romp.  Like the aforementioned child with ADD, the album jumps around, bouncing off the walls and maintaining a relentlessly cheerful attitude until about halfway through, when the songs slow down a little and become more introspective.  It’s almost like Jónsi comes down from a sugar high, and decides it’s probably best to have a little bit of a lie-down.

It’s most certainly a change of pace from the Icelandic singer’s work with Sigur Rós, and a welcome one at that.  While the band’s latest album Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust showed hints of a departure from the slow, atmospheric post-rock soundscapes they’re most famous for, Go shows the singer coming into his own as a songwriter, using more traditional song structures and a generally poppier aesthetic.

That’s not to say that this is a collection of standard pop songs, though.  Jónsi has a very unique ear for melody, and is able to turn ideas that sound like they should work into beautiful vocal parts. His not-quite-falsetto gives an air of breathless excitement to upbeat tracks like “Go Do” and “Animal Arithmetic,” while slower numbers “Tornado” and “Grow Till Tall” showcase the mournful, almost operatic side of his vocal range.  Jónsi has always talked about using his voice as an instrument, and he definitely succeeds with these songs.

The rest of the instrumentation is sublimely presented, as well.  From the glitchy beeps and bloops of opener “Go,” the cascading drums and guitars of “Grow Till Tall,” to the swelling horns and strings of “Hengilás,” composer Nico Muhly (who also helped out both Grizzly Bear and Antony and the Johnsons on their most recent albums) deserves full credit for his work here. While the songs are primarily about Jónsi’s voice, these songs just wouldn’t work without Muhly’s skilful arrangements.

Now, it’s hard to be 100% certain, as parts of the album are in Icelandic, but Go appears to be an album about the wonders and terrors of growing up. The lyrics and music complement each other perfectly, combining to present themes of leaving home, wide-eyed discovery, losing childhood friends, and the uncertainty of life.

It’s hard to put into words just how perfectly Jónsi’s lyrical themes seem to fit Muhly’s instrumental atmospheres, so it’s probably just best if you listen for yourself.  You’ll like it.

I promise.

Go was released April 5, 2010 in XL Recordings

Check out: “Go Do,” “Animal Arithmetic,” “Grow Till Tall”

out of 5 weasels.

Free MP3’s:

Go Full Album Stream – Lyrics here


Never trust a hamster. Support the artist and find out for yourself. encourages purchasing Go at Red Cat Records in Vancouver, B.C, any independent record store of your choice or online here.


One Response to “Turncoat Turntable 024: Jónsi – Go”

  1. [...] said, here’s my review of Jónsi’s Go, written for westcoastweasel. If you check it out there, you’ll get some videos and free song downloads. Cool [...]

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