Album Review: Ásgeir, “In The Silence” (2014)

I came across Ásgeir’s music by chance; I was scrolling through Twitter, when I happened upon the page of singer, Vanessa Carlton, who was recommending his music by comparing him to a mix between “Phil Collins and Bon Iver.” The description intrigued me, since I’m a fan of both of those artists, and soon I found myself falling in love with Ásgeir’s Spotify page.

The 22-year-old Icelandic singer hasn’t really hit mainstream success yet, but I’d say it’s only a matter of time. His debut album, “In The Silence”, is a beautiful mix of swooning ballads and upbeat pop/rock numbers. All of the songs on the album have been translated from Ásgeir’s native language, and the album is actually a re-release of his Icelandic debut,”Dyrð í dauðaþögn ”(which is also available for streaming on Spotify. I highly recommend listening to the Icelandic version, too- the songs are the same, but they have a different feeling to them when heard in their original format). Because the songs weren’t written in English, the lyrics have a unique, poetic feeling to them which most modern pop songs don’t, making the album even more enchanting.

The most accessible track on the disc is lead single, “King and Cross”, which definitely has a bit of an 80’s new wave/Phil Collins vibe to it. The upbeat number is one you’d have a hard time not singing along to; from the peppy synthesised beat, down to the catchy chorus (“When the king takes sides/Leaving moral minds; soldiers take their share/Nighthawks seem to sense that now is the time/Deep inside them burns the raging fire of life/He’ll take back what he owns ”), the track is an easy one to listen to repeatedly. The song was recently voted #10 in the Australian Triple J’s Hot 100 countdown.

The album’s opening track, “Higher” is a stunning number, highlighted with a gorgeous melody (filled with synths, piano and electric guitar), and one of Ásgeir’s best vocal performances on the album. His vocal range is quite impressive, particularly as he lends his falsetto to the backing vocals, and sings in a deeper register over the verses and choruses. The layering of the melody and Ásgeir’s vocals is truly beautiful, and the song is easily one of the best on the album.

Ageir Trausti

The great moments aren’t just limited to those songs, though. “Summer Guest” is stripped back in production, with the song mostly consisting of acoustic guitar and Ásgeir’s vocals. More emphasis is put on the lyrics, which, again, are translated into what sounds more like a lovely poem than a modern rock/pop song (“My bird flies home from afar/Brings the joy of spring to me/O’er the ocean’s endless blue. He never fails, his path is clear and true/…From my heart I thank you friend for this precious melody/For these sweet and pure tones…”). “Was There Nothing?” is a melancholy number that definitely calls to mind Bon Iver; the sensitive singing and quiet guitar sound like something that would’ve been included on his debut. “Going Home” is probably my second-favourite song on the album; the 80’s synthesisers are back, but Ásgeir revives them in a way that doesn’t make the track seem dated. Instead, the down-tempo number has a beat that impresses itself upon the listener and the downcast lyrics about loneliness (“Long, is the path ahead/And though my body tires/And I have far to go/I know I’m going home ”) fit along perfectly with the melody. “Head In The Snow” is the perfect song for chilling out; the intricate melody (once again, layered with a mix of electronic production, drums, and guitar) is one you’ll easily get lost in, and Ásgeir’s lush vocals add to the song’s charm.

My only regrets in terms of Ásgeir is that I passed on my chance at seeing him live; he was just at the Sydney Opera House in January (just a few weeks after I discovered him), and I decided not to buy tickets. I definitely wish I had now- hopefully he’ll return to Sydney soon!

“In The Silence” is one of those albums that I listened to just once and then couldn’t stop listening to. Ásgeir’s music is fantastic and if this is his debut album, then I can’t wait to see what’s next from him. From Ásgeir’s beautiful vocals, to his exquisite melodies and lyrics (originally written by his father, Einar Georg Einarsson), everything about his album is perfection. I definitely recommend him to anyone who’s a fan of indie rock/pop, or, you know…Phil Collins and Bon Iver.

Rating: 5 stars

Track Listing
1. Higher
2. In The Silence
3. Summer Guest
4. King And Cross
5. Was There Nothing?
6. Torrent
7. Going Home
8. Head In The Snow
9. In Harmony
10. On That Day

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