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Sigur Rós 

Takk . . . (Geffen)

Scandinavian orchestral-rock group Sigur Rós should be one of the most reviled acts on the pop landscape: Its songs typically last eight minutes, it titles albums with symbols, singer Jon Thor Birgisson makes up his own words, and, last but certainly not least, it's a Scandinavian orchestral-rock group. Yet nobody else making records today sounds like Sigur Rós. And nobody's making records as gorgeous and as mind-blowing.

With its fourth album, Takk . . . , Sigur Rós fortifies its position as one of the few new-millennium bands that bothers to craft entire sets of songs -- an escalating rarity in the iPod age. Takk . . . 's 11 cuts are connected by a harmonic, if not lyrical, thread. (Birgisson at least strings together genuine Icelandic words this time around.) The melancholy horns that join the parade on "Se Lest" eventually give way to "Saeglopur," a momentous set piece that erupts in a discharge of choral voices, horns, strings, and bowed guitar. And the 10-minute "Milano" amounts to modern classical music played with a rock-band aesthetic. (And yes, Sigur Rós actually named its new songs; 2002's ( ) included eight untitled tracks.) If all this sounds similar to 2000's breakthrough CD, Ágætis Byrjun, well, it sorta is. But atmospheric mood music's never sounded so elevating or inviting.

More by Michael Gallucci


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