It's been almost three years since Sigur Ros released their last full length, (), and in the meantime they've toured all over the world and put out a couple halfhearted EPs. It was some time ago that I read that they were recording their upcoming release in the bottom of an empty indoor pool which they had converted into a studio. Over the years, several songs that the group played live (and were presumed to be new tracks they were working on) leaked out, some of which I enjoyed, and some of which I felt were sort of treading the same ground.
Really, though, the group has carved out a somewhat unique realm for themselves in terms of music, and there isn't any huge need for them to do anything drastically different (although collaborative project releases that weren't official, such as Odin's Raven Magic were quite good). In a way, Takk... is sort of a return to form for the group after the somewhat cumbersome (). The group toys with shorter track lengths and some more upbeat and uplifting sonics, and the result is yet another solid album from the group.
The first half of the release include some of the better work that the group has done to date, with some familiar sounds and new twists mixed together in delightful ways. The short opening album-titled "Takk..." is all shimmering electronics and bowed guitar while "Glôsôli" chugs along with a super juicy bassline, chimes, and layered, swirling vocals from Jonski Birgisson. The track ebbs and flows, adding guitars, music box, and even more instrumentation until it explodes with a loud and glorious finale that's absolutely stunning.
"Hòppipolla" is a lush, orchestral track that mixes strings, piano, chimes, and lush vocals into a short track that may very well be one of the poppiest things the group has ever done. "Sê Lest" finds the group experimenting with some new sounds as filtered vocal snippets coo and mix with vibes and chimes as strings provide a warm backdrop. The track is lighthearted and playful and drops off into a more electronic midsection before bursting with an almost silly horn section that will bring a smile to the face of all but the most jaded. If "Glôsôli" weren't enough of a scorcher, "Sæglòpur" opens with more playful vocal glints and chimes before slowly progressing into the loudest track on the disc, blaring with huge guitars and pummeling at the end.
The album doesn't quite maintain its momentum throughout, and actually drags in several places during the latter half. "Milanó" clocks in at over ten minutes and just sort of floats along in a pretty, gooey mass of warm sounds while "Andvari" drags like a drippy ballad with its too-polished guitar and string mixture. "Svehljótt" opens in much the same way, but fortunately frees itself with a more explosive ending.
Although the album isn't groundbreaking, it does contain several new wrinkles in sound for the group, and most of them work quite well. It's actually the tracks that stick to a more standard lineup (guitar/bass/strings/percussion/vocals) that feel the most laborious on the release, and unlike some of their experimentation on their previous shorter EPs, their excusions with different instrumentation blend in much better on Takk... As mentioned above, the album seems a bit frontloaded and seems to lose some steam during the second half, but I still have to admit that the group can pack a serious whallop when they get down to business.