Ásgeir has had some help with In the Silence. Iceland’s latest adopted son, John Grant, helped translate the albums lyrics into English. Ásgeir’s 72-year-old father helped write some of the lyrics. Of Monsters and Men helped raise his profile by taking him on tour.
That said, Ásgeir remains the star of the show here. In the Silence, it has been well reported is the English language rehash of Dýrð í dauðaþögn, the Icelandic version that outsold Björk and Sigur Rós—it’s the highest selling debut in Iceland—and spent a hefty ten weeks atop the Icelandic charts. It would be easy, then, to get washed away in the hype, and there is certainly plenty of that around this album.
Ásgeir—full name Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson—has produced a wonderful little album here. I suppose it might be pigeonholed ‘folktronica,’ and invite comparisons with Bon Iver, or Jóse González, or even James Vincent McMorrow, but it has something else too. Yes, it’s gentle, softly beautiful stuff, but Ásgeir sings his falsetto with such emotion that it sounds personal, like a love letter written just to you.
This is not just folktronica by numbers. I suspect it’s had a suitable gloss added since its original version. The production here is expertly handled. Everything sounds perfectly balanced, and has layering that neatly wraps around Ásgeir’s vocals.
‘Higher’ is a sweet introduction to what is about to come, first single ‘King and Cross’ builds to an almost dance-y crescendo and will stick in your head for days. ‘Torrent’ adds some gravitas to proceedings, whilst ‘Going Home’ sounds like a sweet hymn, with a surprising horn section. ‘Head In The Snow’ starts with rattling percussion that is both fresh and inventive, and saves the song from being just another finger plucking standard. ‘In Harmony’ breaks out an impromptu choral backing that just soars.
All in all, this is a wonderful album, that deserves all the credit it’s been getting. For a guy in his 20s, from the sleepy hamlet of Laugarbakki in Northwest Iceland, Ásgeir might just have the world at his feet. Then he might just need all the help he can get.
Originally published on Iceland Review online.