Hjaltalin - Sweet Impressions

Chris Tapley 03/09/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

Icelandic troupe Hjaltalin are the kind of band which will either be adored or despised, and few listeners will fall in-between the two camps. This is the consequence of their delightfully eccentric brand of unpredictable pop. Personally, I can't see for a second why anyone would not love everything about them, they're undoubtedly one of the most exciting and invigorating bands around right now. Of course the use of the word Icelandic in relation to music immediately conjures up pre-conceived notions of what they might sound like such has been the success of a few notable acts to have emerged from the country. This is Hjaltalin though, you can disregard those notions immediately.

Instead they deal in a heady mixture of pop, soul, jazz and a just a tiny dash of the kind of winding post-rock crescendos you might have been expecting. The track is really illuminated by the joyous arrangements which shift from the restrained but lush tapestry of guitar lashings, underlying strings and vocals harmonies in to cacophonous swells of gospel harmonies, fuzzy guitar solos, galloping piano lines and practically everything in between. The sonic shifts are so mad that it's impossible not to be taken aback with glee at their sheer spontaneity and the abundance of ideas seemingly gushing forth at every turn. All of this is perfectly topped off by the vocal interplay between Högni Egilsson and Sigríður Thorlacius, his slightly gravelly voice being offset by her decidedly more delicate swoon. In terms of exciting, adventurous pop music it doesn't come more perfectly formed than Hjaltalin, and whilst their recent album, Terminal, has seen some critical praise I get the impression that we haven't heard even a fraction of their brilliance yet.

Hjaltalin Official MySpace