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Iceland’s most famous musicians didn’t wait long to put out more music. Just a year after releasing Valtari, and without keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson and his gift for orchestral arrangements, this album goes in a new direction.

The music retains the ethereal sensibility and Jonsi’s distinctive vocals while adding more percussion and speedier tempos. Using distortion techniques on most of the tracks seems to move the listener from the rural and pastoral setting of past albums into the urban industrial environment.

The result is at times chaotic and harsh; but it is indeed a different kind of beauty. Kveikur is a pleasant surprise and a refreshing new direction for a band that has been making music for almost two decades. (XL Recordings)

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