Hjaltalin - Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Sun 17 May
With both bands hailng from the frosty environs of Iceland, comparisons between Hjaltalín and Sigur Ros were inevitable, but you’d be wrong to go there straight away as there is more to Hjaltalín than their place of birth. Their sound is akin to Arcade Fire’s but they have a bit less folk and a bit more orchestra in their pop. Hjaltalín obviously don’t want their classical influences to be overshadowed, so the cello, bassoon and clarinet are very much the focus here, accentuated instead of the familiar rock band framework also on show.
With floaty harmonies and melodies that you feel were almost non-existent until now, Egilsson and Thorlacius’ voices complement each other perfectly, as witnessed on the band’s debut UK release, Sleepdrunk Season.
Hjaltalín could give a full orchestra a run for their money in both sound and instrument arrangement. What will come as no surprise is that only a few months ago, Hjaltalín’s own Högni Egilsson won Best Songwriter at the Icelandic Music Awards - it only takes one song from their set to realise why.