Features | Awards

The Guilty Pleasures Award

By Conrad Amenta | 10 December 2010

“Grow till Tall”
(XL/Parlophone; 2010)

I’m not a fan of Jónsi. His whole schtick is entirely too cloying to enjoy seriously, unless you’re into Icelandic cosplay or believe that inside each of us is the uncorrupted soul of a child that, if it can be reached, might unite us, each and all, in essentialist harmony. There’s something so completely unstylish about this stylized romp through Peter Pan politics, something somehow less, even, than Of Montreal’s fucking around. But I’m not dead inside, at least not completely, not yet. Come surf the crest of this post-rock crescendo with me, battle axes held aloft, seagulls smacking funnily off our barrel chests.

The first half of this entirely too long song exemplifies everything I just made fun of. There’s some thread of ambient noise as Jónsi warbles annoyingly along (though displaying an impressive lung capacity). But stick with it! What follows could play behind every inspiring movie trailer, every sports highlight, every slow motion depiction of hysterical emotion combined into one brain-meltingly horrible and ecstatic montage. Is it ironic that the same epic core into which this adorable wood nymph is tapping is that same core that insists on F-15s screaming over football games? That if this song was four minutes shorter and wasn’t the lyrical equivalent of finger painting that it would be by U2? That the “Yes We Can!” generation has very quickly become the “Write Me a Check!” one?