Review: Sóley – Endless Summer
National Music Reviews
Sóley = Sigur Rós + Mogwai + CoCoRosie
Sóley Stefánsdóttir, or simply known as Sóley, is an indie singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Iceland whose music is as devastating as it is alluring and elegant. I’ve been a fan of Sóley for many years, and I’m happy to say that Endless Summer is, to put it quite simply, flawless.
The album starts off with the track “Úa,” which is much like the piano intro in We Sink (2011). I felt right at home musically when I heard the sounds of the accordion, soft piano and the elegant yet eerie harmonies of Sóley’s voice fill my headphones. This album has much less of the distorted sounds and unsettling piano thrums than its predecessor, but still captures the icy, delicate atmosphere of her previous albums.
“Sing Wood To Silence” unravels a sad yet familiar story. Sóley’s voice cries out while a piano duet trapezes over her harmonic vocals. “Do you understand there’s nothing to fear?” she says, while guitar and violin pick up the pace. It’s a lovely story that takes its time to reveal the happy ending—which is not something Sóley typically allows in her music. But the happy ending doesn’t stay long, as “Never Cry Moon” undoubtedly alludes to the traditional Sóley lyrics: “Nothing to find / Empty as forest / No one can hear … / Stay for a while / Bid me away from the death / I’ll make you happy.” Later, she sings about the ocean as the violins play in soft, assured waves.
“Grow” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Sóley begins the song by asking if “I can grow back to you? Little by little, together?” but ends it with a strong, repetitive chorus of “We grow and then we die.” It is a solemn yet honest reminder of our mortality and how much time can be taken up by longing for what we do not have. In this track, I can almost hear the changing of the seasons, a lifetime of wishing for a moment, an outreached hand; the sound of the ocean.
“Before Falling” keeps up the imagery of the ocean as Sóley’s voice crashes on top of piano keys and fades away, only to crash once again. The effect is a stunning piece of musical art. “Traveler” has an unexpected electric organ in the midst of it, adding weight and comfort to the song, which will eventually welcome distorted piano noises, a few bass hums and whispery vocals. The indie-electronic, circus-like sounds that make up a majority of Sóley’s previous albums are most prevalent in this track. The organ ends on a note that is appropriate for a modern-day Dracula film, but the song ends overall on the soft fade of a violin.
The album concludes with its title, “Endless Summer,” a six-minute track of fluttering piano keys and Sóley’s contorted yet controlled vocals. “Did you see the sun come up? / You can find me in the flowers / You can find yourself some peace.” Here, Sóley cleverly alludes to her tracks “Sun is Going Down,” and “Sun is Going Down II” from We Sink.
Sóley has created yet another beautiful work of art. Endless Summer is similar enough to Sóley’s previous albums that fans won’t be dissuaded from it, but it is also different enough to draw a new kind of audience to her music. Endless Summer is a lovely album, filled with a mature kind of longing that leads its listeners into a realm of nostalgia, of “dreamlike,” of sehnsucht. –Alex Vermillion