Asgeir - Afterglow (One Little Indian)

Icelandic alt pop doyen returns with excellent third LP

Released May 4th, 2017 via One Little Indian / By Jethro West
Asgeir - Afterglow (One Little Indian) Hailing from the land of the ice and snow, Ásgeir has returned with his highly (and globally) anticipated second album, Afterglow. And despite following in the footsteps of sensational debut, In the Silence, Ásgeir’s latest offering is every bit as resplendent as the last.

The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and collaborator appears to have reached new heights with his latest release. This time around, Afterglow is more experience than sound. Its breadth, depth and melodic complexion surely lends itself to the northern lights and midnight sun that would have been ingrained in Ásgeir’s upbringing in the Icelandic town of Laugarbakki, populated by just 40 people.

Wrought in familiar and evocative natural imagery, the title track opens the record with a twinkling piano refrain. Ásgeir massages sultry humming into the opening bars before gorgeous vocals manifest the words of his father and renowned poet, Einar Georg Einarsson. Swaying strings soon launch the track into a celestial climax.

Lead single, ‘Unbound’, scatters trademark falsetto throes of 'I need you to be/ Unbound with me' amongst a moody cloud of glittering electronica. Meanwhile, ‘Stardust’ culminates the trio of singles with a whole new dimension to Ásgeir’s back catalogue. The electro-pop hit is more reminiscent of R&B with a mesmerising cascade of acoustic guitar and keys to boot. ‘I Know You Know’ follows in a similar vein and is arguably the most infectious of the album with more luscious vocal drones.

The latter half of Afterglow brings a far more measured and melancholic approach from Ásgeir. ‘Underneath It’, an altogether majestic and stormy piece, begins forlorn and stripped back. Harmonious vocals echoing ‘underneath it’ lull you into a false sense of security before a tempestuous beast rises from beneath the organ chords with a throbbing electronic bassline.

An affective reappearance of ‘Dreaming’ forms a piano, vocal and brass masterpiece before the record rounds off with ‘Fennir Yfir’ and ‘Hold’. These two concluding songs offer a mystical return to his roots as Ásgeir reverts to Icelandic harmonies that swirl amongst delicate piano, ticking percussion and weeping strings.

To come back to the fold in an ever-changing genre, Ásgeir has once again produced a breath of fresh air from Iceland’s illustrious music industry. Ultimately he’s an artist who proves that, despite enormous success off the back of your debut album, you can always come back with something better and reinstate yourself as one of music’s most exciting new voices.