Published February 25, 2014
Sveinn Guðmundsson’s debut album is pretty much your standard issue bread and butter lo-fi Icelandic folk twiddle. A deferential mix of gently strummed guitars, soft chewy bass notes, comfy melodica wheezes, and trombone (the Comic Sans of instruments) splayed across the board.
Initially, it all adds up to a seemingly competent, well-produced album. Yet the feeling you get from listening to ‘Fyrir Herra Spock…’ is one of superficiality. Beneath the spindly notes and smiles, the listlessness of music that has been done over so many times before is palpable. Music of this style needs to raise some kind of special evocation from the minimal production, but here there are no divergences from the template and the atmosphere generated is dull and nondescript.
On top of this, the lyrical themes/content leaves a lot to be desired. Peppering the album with retro pop culture references (see the album title) already sends off red flags, but for an album of self-referential writing, it’s full of witless, inane stuff such as happy little wolves (“Úlfar”), being all warm and cosy at home (“Heima”) and ‘finding yourself’ in a game of hide and seek (“Feluleikur”). A Song like “Skuggar og Sár” (“Shadows and wounds”) consists of nothing but lines such as “My shadow/Your shadow/My wounds/Your wounds” ad infinitum. Barf!
There are a couple of moments that rise about the insipidness. The second half of “Fjöruferð” builds up a pretty rousing group handclap/foot stomp, while “MacGyver Og Ég” sees him crank up the guitar and start singing like he gives a damn. But these are lone spots in what is an underperforming record.