"Go" (2010) by Jónsi

Go is a very rare case where the first five seconds of the album are enchanting enough to hold your attention for the next fourty minutes. Jónsi Birgisson’s first solo record is a wonderful exploration of ambient, ethereal pop music. While his other groups, Jónsi & Alex and Sigur Rós, their whole albums are used to paint one picture, each track building upon the last to create one huge masterpiece when the album’s last moments go by. Nonetheless, it’s still one picture. Go has Jónsi create almost a mosaic – taking snippets of broken pieces, and creating something short, sharp, and bubbly, vastly steering away from his typical style and making something entirely new.

I’m not sure if I’m a fan of Jónsi electing to sing mostly in English for this release. It’s a little bit weird and disconcerting, because you’re so used to hearing his beautiful, instantly recognisable voice singing in an unknown language. I mean, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it takes a little bit of getting used to as you find yourself thinking “hey, I understand what he said just then!”. I often, subconsciously, tuned the lyrics out and listened to Jónsi’s amazing vocals as music, not as words, as I have for all his other releases. I regret it as soon as I catch myself, as the lyrics he’s written are beautiful when you take the time to listen.

Needless to say, Jónsi has crafted some perfect pop songs. The production, done by himself, Alex Somers (of Jónsi & Alex) and Peter Katis, is wonderful. It is thick and heavy, pounding and rich, unparalleled in music. The music itself is very upbeat and lively, with an electronic feel to it. Jónsi chops up and manufactures his own vocal line to create something unique and beautiful. In his typical fashion, Go is full of sweeping strings, which gives the album its Jónsi-ness. Interesting fact – I don’t think I heard a single guitar on the whole record, but I could be wrong. Just drums, strings, bass guitar, and synths/keyboards.

The opening track, “Go Do”, is amazing. It will be on my first mixtape, so stay on the lookout. You have to listen to it, you just have to.

Go is beautiful. It will lift you to great heights and beyond.

Choice tracks: Go Do; Boy Lilikoi; Sinking Friendships; Animal Arithmetic
If you like: Sigur Rós; the Polyphonic Spree; the Flaming Lips; Four Tet; the Postal Service; Jónsi & Alex


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