Iceland Airwaves Eruption projects a swagger that its songs can’t fully match in quality. This collection is a companion to the island nation’s signature music festival, which has earned thick kudos as a hotspot for showcasing local and international talent. David Fricke even dubbed it “the hippest long weekend away on the annual music-festival calendar.” Thus, the Icelandic brand comes accredited with coolness. As a whole, though, the compilation on Iceland Airwaves Eruption is too pedestrian to keep abreast of the hype-train. Many of its 17 easy-to-digest songs play like stock genre entries. Lay Low’s “Mojo Love” is chipper acoustic-pop that unfolds insistently by-the-book. Gus Gus’ “Moss” is indistinguishable from most Euro-techno on the market while the airy preciousness of “I Sing I Swim” and “Snjorljossnjor”, by Seabear and Benni Hemm Hemm, respectively, will only prompt unfavorable comparisons to the great Sufjan Stevens. Track to track, the album does achieve plentiful diversity. But what matter is that with rock so histrionic and hip hop (or the token go-at-it anyway, “Northern Lights”) so unfocused? That said, the lead track “Go Blind”, by solo performer Mugison, is a wild, genre-bending romp, filled with boogie riffs, potent jazz, and darkly sexual vocals. Múm’s “Dancing Behind My Eyelids” also satisfies, packing a crisp, affecting punch with its wintery electronic. These are the lonely highpoints of the otherwise ho-hum Iceland Airwaves Eruption, which won’t convince you to buy the Nordic hoopla without asking for more and better.
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// Notes from the Road
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