Jonsi’s gorgeously glitchy new album ‘Shiver’ is here
When Sigur Ros went on hiatus after 2008's Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, frontman Jonsi made an ambient album with his partner Alex as Riceboy Sleeps and then launched a solo career with 2010's Go, a kinetic, maximalist art pop album that was a much different beast than the glacial-paced post-rock Sigur Ros were best known for, and still one of the most unique records of the last decade. Jonsi ended up taking the album on an equally spectacular tour, but then Sigur Ros' hiatus quickly ended and they returned with two more great albums, 2012's Valtari and 2013's Kveikur. Now it's actually been much longer of a gap without a Sigur Ros album than it was in 2010 -- though both Sigur Ros and Jonsi have found various ways to stay active -- but history is starting to repeat itself. 2019 brought a 10th anniversary tour and a surprise new album from Riceboy Sleeps, and now Jonsi is once again releasing a solo album, his first in ten years and second ever.
Compared to the maximalist Go, Shiver takes a much different approach. It was co-produced with PC Music's A.G. Cook, who's known for making electronic music that sounds as freakish as possible, and he and Jonsi seem to have found the middle ground between PC Music's chaos and Sigur Ros' serenity. Shiver is a more blissful, ethereal album than Go -- the perfect kind of album to feature Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser, which it does -- but there's also a glitchiness that always keeps things lively and unpredictable. "I’ve been doing this for 30 years... I just wanted to have a different approach," Jonsi said of working with Cook, and that's very much what this album is. It doesn't sound like anything else in Jonsi's vast discography, and he sounds refreshed on this album. He sounds like he approached this album with the same wide-eyed ambition he had on Sigur Ros' breakthrough Ágætis byrjun, and again on his first solo album.
Most of the album sticks to the same ambient yet glitchy vibe, a vibe that shares some DNA with albums like Low's Double Negative, Bon Iver's 22, A Million, or the just recently released Sufjan album. But there's one song where Jonsi fully gives in to A.G. Cook's buzzing, in-your-face pop, and they roped in a collaborator who's perfect for this kind of thing: Robyn. The two singers connect over a shared "Scandanavian pain," fighting off the bad feelings with loud, euphoric, danceable pop music.
Shiver is out now via Krunk. Stream it and watch a few videos from the album below...