Published August 16, 2013
Bárujárn got a lot of hype a few years back when they hit the scene with their inventive breed of dark surf rock that featured the oldest electronic instrument out there, the theremin, which is rarely used nowadays (outside of the occasional sci-fi soundtrack). However, they never managed to put out a proper album—and then went on extended hiatus about three years ago. But finally, they’re back, and they thankfully brought an LP along.
Bárujárn’s self-titled debut is a unique listening experience for sure. It starts with the sound of the ocean, before the twanging guitars chime in, underscored by low-key theremin hiss. It’s like The Shadows with a darker shade of sunglasses playing in the nighttime on a black-sanded Icelandic beach.
Aside from some excellent surfing workouts on the guitar, many of the melodies and lyrics bear resemblance to old Icelandic folk songs. Sometimes the theremin assumes the role that a male choir usually does in Icelandic folk music, and in “Sírena” (“Siren”) it takes the centre stage, weaving a lingering lullaby to a hypnotic effect. Latin-sounding horns spice up “Cha Cha Cha” and lone cover “Brennið þið vitar” (“Burn, You Lighthouses”) is an old epic Icelandic choir staple that suits the band perfectly. In “Skuggasörf “ (“Shadow Surf”) and Þula (“Mantra”) the guitar and theremin go head to head on a collision course in a collective freakout, effectively mesmerizing the listener.
It’s a bit strange listening to a band coming out with an album after such a long time of inactivity, especially when it features so many songs they used to play a lot three years ago. Also, the mixing could be better on some of the songs, especially the vocals, which sometimes sound too muddy. Still, Bárujárn are one of a kind, and I’m really glad they finally put those songs to tape.