It’s easy to entertain the fantasy that time passes differently in Iceland. While bands in America might feel anxious to mutate their genre before someone else does, Icelandic artists seem content making music that’s simply, unapologetically beautiful. Like many of his national peers, Seabear frontman Sindri Már SigfÃºsson — now releasing his third solo album as Sin Fang – makes lush and easily swallowed folk-pop that embraces its own prettiness without cynicism.
The follow-up to 2011’s Summer Echoes, Flowers marks SigfÃºsson’s first time working with an official producer. Alex Somers, known for his work with Sigur Rós and Jónsi, leaves his mark all over the album’s 10 tracks. While Summer Echoes and Clangour weaved their intricate arrangements through a relatively flat field of sound, Flowers comes into sharp focus. A much-needed space expands between the drums, strings, horns, bass, and SigfÃºsson layered vocals.
Flowers is nothing if not big, with most tracks coasting along dramatic dips and swells. The most successful moments cut close to unabashed pop, like the eruptive “What’s Wrong With Your Eyes”. Occasionally, Somers’ digital flourishes feel misplaced: On ”Feel See”, he introduces electronic bass squiggles into an otherwise perfectly bucolic arrangement.
Aside from a perplexing post-punky guitar break on “See Ribs”, Flowers breezes through with a uniform energy and a consistent palette. The record’s less memorable tracks get lost in the mix, as the tone never breaks from free-spirited nostalgia in low contrast. But the album does blossom in the same way SigfÃºsson’s work always has — sweetly and effortlessly, despite its technical complexity. Flowers serves as a pleasant showcase of ornate, lightweight pop songs, but doesn’t quite raise the stakes beyond what we’ve seen from Sin Fang in the past.
Essential Tracks: “Everything Alright”, “What’s Wrong With Your Eyes”