Jón Þór Birgisson, Jónsi, is best known as the lead singer of the dreamy, bombastic, (adjective) post-punk band Sigur Rós, out of Iceland. This album isn’t really a tremendous deviation, simply because, even though it’s so much more, Sigur Rós’s sound is inextricably linked to this man’s voice. I mean, DAMN. It is beautiful. Here, he’s aided by composer du-jure Nico Muhly and it’s a great fit here. The orchestrations only enhance the joy coming from Jónsi, here singing in English. But the star, of course, is that voice.
James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) produced this record, continuing his infatuation with updating everything that was great about music in the ’70s for today. Maybe the title is a little off, then, because, if anything, this album is stuck on the past. But I’ll be darned if that’s a bad thing.
Last Wednesday (March 17) marked the death of one of pop music’s less-heralded legends. Alex Chilton, you shall forever be missed.
So this is the music from a “folk opera” Mitchell wrote around 2006, performed by Mitchell and several relatively big voices (Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Ani DiFranco, Petra Haden & the other two Haden Triplets). Putting the Orpheus/Eurydice myth into a post-apocalyptic yet Depression-like setting, this brings together a ton of great sounds: tin-pan-alley, ghostly folk, Waits-ian narrative, Appalachian bluegrass, and some terrific songwriting.