ALBUMS OF THE DECADE: Jónsi’s ‘Go’

MMC Writers reflect on their favorite records of the 2010s.

At the heart of Go, the debut solo album from Sigur Rós leader Jónsi, lives a Wild Thing. A thing that grows and leaps and flies and climbs. A thing that yearns and destroys and hopes and howls into the night. 

The first time I listened to Go, I was transported. Its untamed use of acoustic instruments, strings, brass, percussion, celeste, wind, mallets, bird-like-vocals samples and layered harmonies from Jónsi himself, creates a backdrop of sound I have heard nowhere else nor since.

Over nine fertile tracks, Jónsi captures youthful joy, untainted innocence, unbroken spirit, and the longing that comes from growing up and growing apart. His voice is its own instrument, hooking the listener on every word (even when you have no idea what the word is or what it means).

His well-known and well-loved main band has cornered the market on this branch of emotive post-rock, which dips more than one toe into the symphonic. But with Go, Jónsi did something different, which remains difficult to pin down but so unfathomably beautiful that it has easily earned a solid place in my top Albums of the Decade.

Songs like “Go Do,” “Animal Arithmetic” and “Boy Lilikoi” have a vibrancy and heart-pounding energy. On “Grow Till Tall,” “Hengilás” and “Sinking Friendships” we tap into a mystical breed of wondering, wishing and melancholia. And on the dark “Kolniður” we touch upon something chaotic and savage.

What makes Go such a unique listening experience is how every emotion is captured, then harmonized with another that changes from the inside out. When we step into longing, we are lifted by marvel; when we face the chaos, we are carried by an airy melody that cuts through the darkness. 

Go is a spectacle. It’s a cinematic symphony. It’s a chance to be young again; a chance to be a Wild Thing. It’s an album that has taken me to a place all its own, and after 10 years I keep going back.  

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