This one’s a grower. As Stafraenn Hákon are billed as Icelandic post-rock I immediately (and lazily) thought Sigur Rós. Upon first listen I immediately (and unfairly) thought Coldplay; but that was just the moderate tempos, lush instrumentation, and emotive songwriting at work.
Here we have a soaring, straight-up rock album that gets a little more powerful with every listen. The music is often worthy of being described as “epic.” There are glorious string crescendos, guitars that ping and chime, layers of bittersweet keyboards, and warm synth lines working together in beautiful cohesion. And that’s just the first track.
“Sanitas” is my first encounter with Stafraenn Hákon, who have evidently been moving away from their electronica/ambient roots to a more rocking direction. As evidenced by the effortless songwriting on “Ratio 8:3 (at least)” or “Temporality” and the sonic splendor the group stitch together so nicely, this is a good direction for the band.
8/10 -- Mike Pursley (4 August, 2010)