I was first intrigued by the DIY approach of this group. Hard work, self-promotion, and word of mouth can do a lot these days. But none of it would work without a virtually flawless album full of quirky grooves and brilliantly unique vocals. You have to have the right type of sound to get away with singing the way Alec Ounsworth does. Sounding like your just a tad nuts definitely helps. This album flows so seamlessly and never once misses a step, start to finish. The test has to be "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth." Your opinion of that song will probably decide if you'll like the album or not. It worked for me.
I always tell people the easiest way I know to describe Sigur Ros is to imagine what a "rock" band from Rivendell might sound like (if you need help with the "Rivendell" reference, shame on you.) Unlike many, this album wasn't my first encounter with the band, otherwise it might be a little higher on the list (maybe #21?) based on shock value alone. Nothing can prepare you for what this group brings to the table. It's hard to comprehend how a band can sound so epic in such a relatively quiet fashion (probably to do with that cello bow guitar work...). Whatever it is, it's nice to know the vast cosmos will always have a soundtrack.
Part of the reason O Brother, Where Art Thou became one of my very favorite movies is because of its equally amazing soundtrack. It definitely had a big effect on my perception of that "old timey" sound, and I know I wasn't the only one. Some groups that made this list probably wouldn't have if I had never heard this soundtrack, (Sufjan Stevens, Nickel Creek, Love Psychedelico, Guster, Kings of Convenience) as well as a few I'm just getting into now (Bon Iver, Joshua James). A very influential album for me.
No title? No song names? Not even one word of actual language? The longest song is 13 minutes?? THIS was my first encounter with Sigur Ros. It is a difficult listen for the average Joe, I can imagine. What I like about it that previous album Agaetis Byrjun didn't quite manage is its consistent, continuous mood. Sure, it's a somewhat grim and dreary mood (it kind of matches the crap weather we're getting right now). But there is a deep emotion throughout that lingers long after it's done. Like you've just seen a beautifully sad film. The climactic final track is one of the grandest of all finales . A great musical experience, if you have the patience.