“Why can’t you just be okay? / You’re such an ice breaker, åh nej…“
For those unfamiliar, Sigur Rós is an incredible Icelandic ambient, ethereal, progressive rock troupe, responsible for one of the most formative records of my teenage years, Takk…, among other accomplishments that are not directly centered around myself.
In any case: Jónsi fronts the band, providing his angelic falsetto and otherworldly vocals in Icelandic and English…and also sometimes a made-up language, dubbed Hopelandic. And he’s a fellow gay, LGBTs!
Jónsi just released a new solo record in a decade this past mammoth New Music Friday (October 2) called Shiver, produced by PC Music’s A.G. Cook, which is already a mindfuck in and of itself just considering those two sonic worlds meshed together.
Mixed within the many odd and beautiful moments throughout the set is a song called “Salt Licorice,” a collaboration with the Body Talk goddess herself, and an ode to “Scandinavian pain.”
Described as an “aggressive take on ballroom house,” the two industry vets hold hands and traverse rocky dance floor terrain crafted by A. G. Cook, tasting the bitter fruits of life together and swooning for a blue-eyed “blondie boy” – and a real heartbreaker, at that. Åh nej! (“Oh no” is “åh nej” in Swedish. We’re learning some lingo with this song, too.)
Although it might sound like a bit of an aural assault inside of a boxing ring (okay, a clusterfuck), the stuttering song reveals itself to be a particularly catchy and charming cut, buried in layers upon layers of dinging bells, fuzzy static, fierce, hectic ball-ready beats and sparkling electronica that vaguely recalls Robyn’s Kleerup collaboration, “With Every Heartbeat.”
“The way we used to laugh / It cuts me through and through / The way we used to dance / I owe it all to you,” they wistfully croon, hitting their shared sweet spot of nostalgia. A particularly choice lyric: “Your skinny waist is making me throw up.” Incredible.
The track certainly takes Jónsi out of his usual holy-like comfort zone, swerving as close as he’s probably come yet into the pop lane, while Robyn gets to fully feel her Swedish-meets-Icelandic weirdo fantasy, like when she got to perform Björk‘s “Hyperballad” in front of the Post goddess herself years ago.
“‘Salt Licorice’ is such a cute and perfect pop song. It makes me want to dance violently and make out at the same time. It was a no-brainer to say yes to singing it with Jónsi. The pretty emails I get with a thousand emojis in them from him is a bonus that came with our collaboration as well,” Robyn says. LGBT warrior.
The result is a treat – salty, bitter and sweet all at once – much like this life, and all of its Scandinavian pain(s).
Shiver is out now in CD and vinyl.
This album is featured on the MuuTunes Spotify playlist.
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Photo credit: A. Somers