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Sigur Rós:: Takk…(Album Review)

A strange thing happens before the two-minute mark in “Saeglopur.” All the twinkling and cooing erupts, at what might seem like eight minutes earlier than normal, into a cathartic blast of tautly constructed group noise — or, as those who prefer songs and motion over moods and atmospheres might say, “The good part comes.” “Saeglopur” is emblematic of Sigur Rós’ fourth album, released nearly three years (!) after ( ). Nothing resembles a drone, and no part of it could be described as funereal. Even so, Takk… is still very much a Sigur Rós album, due in large part to the ever-present otherworldly vocals, but also because the only real changes are the activeness of some arrangements — arrangements that deploy a familiar combination of bass, drums, piano, vocals, lots of strings, and some horns — and some of the colors that are used. Despite opening with what sounds like a happy walk through a snow bank, the album is just as suited for a sunlit spring morning as ( ) was suited for a winter trudge across a foggy moor, so in that sense, it isn’t a repeat and is more tactile than illusory, but it’s not likely to win over anyone who suddenly felt an index finger push against the back of his throat while hearing “Svefn-G-Englar” for the first time. And it’s not as if the band is suddenly writing three-minute pop songs, either. Half of the album’s tracks are longer than six minutes, with extended cresting, sudden bursts of action, and a couple particularly fragile moments that seem to be on the brink of melting away. One thing to consider when wondering whether or not this band has changed in any way: they’ve gone from providing the background music to death announcements to “Sé Lest,” a fluttering children’s lullaby that is briefly crashed by an even more gleeful oom-pah-pah brass band.