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Is Sigur Ros Just Music for Adult Babies?

This anaemic post-rock is for people who can't face reality, but like having their own tea-making routines.

by Josh Baines
Apr 13 2016, 2:12pm

This article originally appeared on Noisey UK, which you can probably tell by all these British insults we don't understand but sound funny.

Recently I found myself having an enjoyable night out. It was actually a Really Good Night Out that had the potential to veer towards Amazing Night status. One of those big nights that etches itself into the long term memory, chiseling away at facts and figures that’ve been lodged there since pre-pubescence, making way for your mate who is trying to chirpse a girl in a club while wearing sunglasses and a bandana. One of those evenings where you drop a hot dog on the floor while coming up a bit harder than you’d anticipated and end up staring forlornly at the sullied frankfurter feeling sadder than you’ve ever felt before. Everything was going swimmingly. Nearly.

Upon arriving back at a mate’s flat afterwards and smoking the normal 65 fags and trying to stuff pints of tap water into stomachs that were still doing reverse inward somersaults, things went the dull and wicked ordinary way. Joints were proffered, words fell from mouths into the unthinking ether, and no song lasted more than thirty seconds. Then it happened. Then the Bad Thing happened. Someone commandeered the stereo.

“Eh, mate,” they said to me, eyes in different continents, mouth daubed in a white crust, “I’m gonna put something a bit more relaxing on, that alright?” A “go on then,” dripped from my ashen larynx, thinking it might be some Brian Eno or Stars of the Lid or whatever. I watched this aux-chord wielding night-wrecker stumble up to the stereo, putz about with Spotify, clicking on his chosen song with an alarmingly smug tap of the index finger. He slipped back into the depths of a tatty sofa. “Turn it up a bit, yeah?” I turn it up. Just a bit.

It’s fucking Sigur Ros. He’s put Sigur fucking Ros on. He’s sat there, smiling away, cigarette burning brightly in his stubby pink sweaty hands, and he’s humming along to “Hoppípolla” and I’ve never hated anyone else more in my entire life. Ever. I’m consumed by it. I stand up as quickly as my weary legs will work and I get the fuck out of there, vowing to never return. Ever. Why? Because Sigur Ros are a band for adult babies.

“What?” you’re bleating at me, all hurt and confused. Why Josh, why are Sigur Ros—who have just announced a full North America tour plus European festival dates to the joy of yoga enthusiasts worldwide—a band for people who can’t quite face reality but like having their own tea-making routines, community gardening projects, Brian Cox boxsets, and not ever having sex ever? I’ll tell you why. With pleasure.

Over the course of seven studio albums—some of which are sung in their bullshit made-up language, which we’ll come back to—the Icelandic dullards have bored holes into anyone with half a brain, while managing to appeal primarily to music fans who seriously describe themselves as “music fans.” Most of them are geography students in cheap hoodies with terrible facial hair and a burgeoning energy drink addiction, the kind of people who check in at the local multiplex for a screening of Grimsby on Facebook. Actually, no, they wouldn’t watch Grimsby. They’d be at a revival showing of The Room and they’d laugh too hard every time Tommy Wiseau opens his mouth. And they’d go home and weep big fat salty tears, tears that taste of unfathomable sadness. And they’d lull themselves to sleep by listening to some wishy washy fucking bollocks by Sigur Ros and they’d pretend they’re soothed by it. They’d try to sleep, but they’d be overcome by everything they’d ever said and done and thought. And when they wake up to () playing on a loop, another day in hell would begin.

What’s so bad about Sigur Ros, though? A few things, actually. One of the things that makes Sigur Ros the ultimate band for wet blankets is that aforementioned invented language. Now, obviously, there’s a tiny little part of me that sort of begrudgingly, very begrudgingly, wants to offer them at least some desultory praise for having the balls to, y’know, invent a language. Then I listened to a Sigur Ros song and remembered that we don’t necessarily have to praise the things we sort of begrudgingly admire. There’s something so precious about it all, so intentionally striving for some kind of mythical outsider status, so desperately wanting to be co-opted by doe-eyed sensitive teens as something for them to escape into. You know who else invented their own language? Sherri and Terri from The Simpsons. And they’re the worst characters in it apart from Artie Ziff and Lisa.

Get past the language barrier—Hopelandic, they call it—and there’s the matter of the music itself. Sigur Ros make music that montage soundtrackers in the Channel Four “meaningful documentary” team wake up and thank the Lord for every day. Music that can soundtrack an old man who doesn’t like going outside, as he leaves his home for the first time in forty years. Music that can soundtrack a sad, small-looking pigeon's descent toward a cumbersome death, as it huddles away from the rain underneath a car tyre. Music that wants to find meaning in nothing. It’s anaemic post-rock, Godspeed for a generation chronically afraid of losing, Tortoise for people told that trying is just fine, and trying is enough in this life. It’s not. Trying is just that: trying. It isn’t a virtue.

With their nearly wordless chorus’ and faux-soaring strings and their baleful guitars, Sigur Ros aim for storm-in-heaven ambience, but sound more like a wet weekend in Wigan. They’re ultimate proof that big doesn’t always equal beautiful. The band are painful, perpetual over-reachers, always climbing towards a climax that’ll never come because there's so little blood in them they can’t even get a stiffy in the first place, let alone gear towards anything even vaguely resembling a fuck.

This summer sees Jonsi and his ragtag group of bores and scruffs jet around the world, playing to huge crowds night after night, bringing thousands and thousands of wimps to tears. It is 2016. Think about that for a second. It is 2016, and you can still find people—hundreds and thousands of people—willing to go to a gig in the hope that they might hear the soundtrack to a David Attenborough programme. Perhaps when they're there, they will take a cushion with them to have a little nap on so they can describe the experience afterwards as “transcendental.” Truth is, they probably won't even mind that I've written this. They'll probably say something like "Your entitled to your opinion" or "If you don't like them, that's fine :)".

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