Jónsi releases impressive solo album

Kevin Speirs

Sunny days, green fields, buzzing bees, flowers, trees, elephants, riding bikes, making out — a few of my favorite things? No. This is just some of the lyrical content found on the debut solo album by Jón Þór Birgisson, better known as Jónsi. 

Most famously known as the lead singer of Sigur Ros, an experimental/alternative/rock/pop/classical — whatever you want to call it — band from Iceland, Jónsi will release his first solo album on April 5.

Sigur Ros writes all of its music together as a unit. But Jónsi, over the last 15 or so years, has been writing his own songs on the side. Many of his bandmates are now married and starting families, so now is the perfect time to release the songs that he’s been kicking around for years.

With help from producer Peter Katis, composer Nico Muhly and Jónsi’s boyfriend and sound engineer, Alex Somers, the album began as a small acoustic project and transformed into a multi-layered pop outfit.

Most of the lyrics are in English,  which is unusual, because Sigur Ros  sings mostly in Icelandic or in a gibberish, made-up language known as Hopelandic.However, Jónsi has stated that the term was just made up by “some journalist.”

 Entitled “Go,” the album is full of lyrical themes of growth, progress and living. The album begins with the lead single “Go Do,” an upbeat, positive number full of percussion and life. The next track, “Animal Arithmetic,” increases the upbeat feel and vivacity. 

“Tornado” is a slower number, taking on more serious themes. Beginning with soft piano, the song grows with swirling percussion, capped off as Jónsi sings, “I wonder if I’m allowed ever to see/I wonder if I’m allowed to ever be free.” It is easily one of the highlights of the album. 

“Go” ends on a softer tone with “Grow Till Tall” and “Hengilas.” With a sound similar to some of Sigur Ros’ songs, these two tracks have soft melodies, beautifully accented by Jónsi’s ethereal falsetto.

Overall, the album lacks the fullness that Sigur Ros provides. However, “Go” bleeds with a sort of youthful vigor reminiscent of an early spring morning. 

Stylistically, the music has a similar feel to Jónsi’s previous music, and the more upbeat numbers are very reminiscent of the percussive upbeat numbers on the last Sigur Ros album, “Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust.”

“Go” is a simple, beautiful album, oozing with a youthful sentimentality and flavor.

 A pleasant listen, it features an array of emotional and musical variance, while still maintaining its cohesive vivacity.