Published December 14, 2010
There is a beautiful simplicity to roughly half of this album that is difficult to shake, a core of excellent tracks that make the disappointing openers and closers all the more painful. Long chords and gloriously laid-back vocals combine cheesy-synthed, delay-drenched ‘80s sensibilities with Ensími’s melancholic/euphoric shoegaze side on wonderful tracks like ‘Sáttarhönd’ and ‘Gæludýr’, the beautiful ‘90s whitewash of ‘Ráfandi’ and ‘Pillubox’ will give you goosebumps, and the haughty, insidious stop-start charm of ‘Fylkingar’ and ‘Heilræði’ is very satisfying, but they are highlights on something that could have been a lot better. The sound is interesting on all of it, though, with thin, urgent drums and ripping, lo-fi lead guitars paddling furiously to keep the lowbottom bass and quietly desperate vocals afloat, and ‘Gæludýr’, thankfully, sounds quite distinct from the first three albums (there was a time when demos for an unreleased would-be fourth effort, ‘Parkaboy’, were floating around, sounding miserably akin to bad B-sides from their eponymous third album). Only when they try a little too hard to please (‘Læðumst’, ‘Mittisband’) do Ensími fail on this unfortunately discordant album, and all of it bears repeat listening.
Bottom line: Occasionally brilliant, but here’s hoping the bad half improves with time.
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