Jónsi – ‘Shiver’ review: Sigur Rós frontman lets his hair down with a little help from Robyn

Alt. pop meets post-rock on this upbeat second solo album from the indie star more often associated with a sense of melancholia. The guestlist rocks, too

During his 25 years with Sigur Rós, singer Jónsi has led the Icelandic post-rock giants through a series of extremes. They score an almost full emotional spectrum from victory to melancholy, but for all their endless attributes, they have never been a band you went to for a laugh.

When Jónsi made his solo debut with 2010’s stellar ‘Go’, fans welcomed a much sunnier disposition, with the frontman introducing a much more playful, colourful kind of star-gazing art-folk. This time, a decade later, he has teamed up with the Twitterati’s favourite producer A.G. Cook, the founder of P.C. Music and Charli XCX’s creative director. Will this be Jónsi’s zeitgeist-capturing smasher of speaker-busting noise-pop that we didn’t know we needed?

The record certainly boasts enough quirks and textures to keep you coming back to make new discoveries with each listen. Opener ‘Exhale’ starts with Jónsi’s trademark gossamer atmospherics, before some of Cook’s jarring beats take things into new, trancier territory as the singer beckons you to “just let it go”. He applies a similar technique of build-and-release on the sweet, kaleidoscopic synth wig-out that is the title track‘Cannibal’. Guest vocals from Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser make for a heavenly, ‘80s-inspired sci-fi ballad.


There’s also a guest spot from Robyn, who pogos her way through ‘Salt Licorice’, as they dance through their “Scandinavian pain” to make for a rush of disco-thumping, twisted Europop. Machine gun beats meet ravey abandon on the euphoric ‘Wildeye’ as Jonsi “loses control”, ‘Kórall’ brings some Aphex Twin-style skittering production and the scuzzy rush of ‘Swill’ has Cook’s electro-pop midas touch fingerprints all over it.

Gorgeous closers ‘Grenade’ and ‘Beautiful Boy’ run the risk of ending proceedings on the glacial landscape that you’d expect from Sigur Ros, but there’s enough of a futuristic sheen and optimistic vibe to keep it feeling fresh and make you wanna dive back in for more. It just goes to show that there’s really no harm in letting you hair down once in a while.


Roisin Murphy

Release date: October 2

Record label: Krunk

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