There’s a grandiose element to the music of Sigur Rós that seems appropriate for movie soundtracks. At least Cameron Crowe seems to think so, having used the band on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack and now enlisting singer Jónsi Birgisson to score his latest film, We Bought A Zoo. The soundtrack features four previously released songs (three by Jónsi, one by Sigur Rós) as well as two new Jónsi songs and over a half-hour of new instrumentals. The new songs take their cues from the compact symphonies of Jónsi’s solo effort Go rather than the majestic sprawl of his band, with the same tinkling pianos layered with sunny chimes, Nico Muhly’s swirling strings, and ghostly vocal echoes. The result is a whirling, vibrant collection of songs and instrumental snippets that flow together well, the new music holding up beside the old.
Of the two new songs, “Ævin Endar” is the gentler, hushed effort while “Gathering Stories” is a typically soaring, condensed Jónsi epic. The downside of the We Bought A Zoo soundtrack is that the wide scope so often present in Jónsi’s music is limited because much of the new music is fragmented, serving a cinematic purpose but falling short of full-fledged musical works. Still, with Sigur Rós’ hiatus over and the success of Go, this collection stands as a fine next step in Jónsi’s evolving career.