He may be from Iceland, but Ásgeir has been an Aussie favourite since his 2014 debut album In The Silence, performing regular Australian headline and festival shows over the past few years. The singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist was last here in 2015 and has since crafted a follow-up the form of his second full-length offering; Afterglow.
To provide a snapshot of what Afterglow would be like, Ásgeir released a few tracks in the lead-up to the full album release. In doing so, he revealed to listeners that this album would function as a piece of work that treads a delicate line between a new, synthetic-driven sound, and the acoustic/instrumental melodies that he became known for thanks to his debut record.
‘Unbound’ functions both as one of the best tracks on the record, but also as a summation of this fresh, production heavy side to Ásgeir’s music. It sits in perfect contrast to ‘Stardust’, which shows off his creativity and raw energy as an instrumentalist.
The musical asset that, more than any other, identifies Ásgeir’s work as uniquely his, is his inimitable voice. Significant too, on this album, is the way his ability to craft vocal melodies that contrastingly dominate the texture of a song and sink back in behind the instrumentation as if it were merely another instrument. His unmistakable pure vocals are also a big part of how Ásgeir creates track after track that penetrates with raw and real emotion right into the hearts of his listeners.
While there are many tracks that show off his vocal abilities, the unmissable highlight comes through ‘Hold’, the final track on Afterglow. His lyrics are layered in such a way that instrumentation is barely needed, and is used sparingly to fill in space behind the gut-wrenching harmonies. That many of the lyrics on this record feel more powerful and real is no surprise, given that, unlike his first record, Afterglow was written in English, not translated from Icelandic.
Although this technique of layering vocals on top of one another to create textural density is a favourite of Ásgeir’s, it’s clear on other songs like ‘Daydreaming’ and ‘Here Come The Wave In’ that his vocals are just as powerful when they stand alone. These more stripped back parts of the record show vulnerability in his music that is often hard to hear over the fullness of sound that Ásgeir has become so well-known for.
Afterglow is almost the perfect second record for Ásgeir. It’s very much the artist who came and grabbed your heart with an emotive debut, but, at the same time, it’s somehow fuller and bolder, more diverse and more vulnerable all in the same breath.
‘Afterglow’ by Ásgeir is out today. Grab a copy here.