Published October 20, 2015
Æla was formed in a garage somewhere on the Reykjanes peninsula by four guys who wanted to sound like Purrkur Pillnikk (that legendary punk band fronted by Sugarcube Einar Örn). They quickly drew notice for their on-stage energy, winning over many an audience with their short, fun and surprising songs. They are one of those bands that has way too few releases to their name, considering their incredible live shows and how generally well-regarded they are. Their début full-length, ‘Sýnið tillitssemi ég er frávik’ (“Be Considerate, I Am A Divergence”), was released in 2006—and it’s only just now that we’re getting a second helping of that wonderful Æla music on tape.
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On the new album, ‘Vettlingatök’ (“Handle with kid gloves”), the songwriting has grown more complex, while retaining the element of surprise and fun the band made its name on. The first album had fifteen songs, most of them around the two-minute mark, but the new one has twelve, with half of them over three minutes long. My current favourite is “Fyrir þig” (“For you”)—at four and a half minutes, it displays elements of krautrock mixed in with the band’s aggressive, punky sound, never coming off too raw or unrefined.
It sounds like Æla granted themselves permission to let their songs fully realize this time around. Perhaps the songs on the first album were more like seeds, and now the Æla-plant has fully blossomed.