Icelandic singer-songwriter Ásgeir enters the new decade (after spending time isolated in a summerhouse with nothing but his broken heart and recording equipment) with yet another folktronica album in Bury the Moon. Drawing heavy parallels to Bon Iver, Ásgier delivers to us acoustic-driven, electronic-infused narratives about heartbreak and nostalgia. Musically, he cites Nick Drake, Bon Iver, and James Blake as some of his biggest influences, making his style much easier to pin down, but he ultimately indulges in those influences far too much to allow himself to stand out as an individual artist. While the love-child of Justin Vernon and James Blake sounds like a wet dream to many, an otherwise well-produced and performed atmospheric musical experience in Bury the Moon just happens to fall short with a huge void of memorable moments and lack of identity.
The album starts off strong, with a melancholic acoustic guitar and full piano chords on “Pictures,” as Ásgier’s worrisome vocals tell of an uncertain and almost-dystopian world featuring ascending melodies and climactic moments, making for a strong opener. Thematically, he goes on to deliver a series of touching anecdotes reminiscing about a past lover across most of the record, sometimes opting to take a more abstract or poetic approach to the topic instead, making frequent references to nature. Compositionally, the majority of the album follows the same formula, sometimes swapping the keys or guitar for some lush synths or throwing synthetic drums into the mix alongside his vocal performances which seldom change tonally and don’t do much lyrically to stand out. Standalone, the tracks are well-sung and mixed, with verses that give a personal touch to the songs, the best examples being “Youth,” “Eventide,” and “Living Water.” Besides those moments, the album tends to sink much too far into its sound and fails to break away from its derivative self, creating filler tracks such as “Overlay” and the title track on an album already only 11 standard tracks long.
Nonetheless, a good chunk of the album is enjoyable in small doses and is technically solid — unfortunately, the album as a whole is lacking variation and ambition to be something greater than the sum of its parts.
Recommended If You Like: Bon Iver, James Blake
Recommended Tracks: 1 (Pictures), 2 (Youth), 4 (Eventide), 9 (Living Water)
Do Not Play: None
Written by Fernando Claudio-Lopez on 02/23/2020