Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Jónsi ft. Elizabeth Fraser – Cannibal

Not a Kesha cover, although that wouldn’t be any more surprising than the actual credits…


Katherine St Asaph: Predicting your reaction, based on who in the credits you’re most excited about: Liz Fraser, Jónsi, A. G. Cook: You adore 4AD but distrust pop music. You had to overcome a lot of skepticism when hearing PC Music was involved in this, and you’re still not convinced their appreciation is sincere. You wish there was more Liz Fraser. Liz Fraser, A. G. Cook, Jónsi: You too are a devotee of Sarah McLachlan dance remixes. In retrospect you’re not sure why you thought a Jónsi track would sound like one, and are disappointed. You also wish, correctly, that there was more Liz Fraser. (Alternatively: You are a devotee of Sigur Ros dance remixes, and should link me to good ones because I don’t know any.) A. G. Cook, Jónsi, Liz Fraser: You pride yourself in your broad, eclectic music collection, which contains only 75% men. You either swore by the Hype Machine, or swear by whatever the zoomer equivalent is (it can’t be TikTok, can it?). You may forget this in 2 months. A. G. Cook, Liz Fraser, Jónsi: You are a regular on /r/popheads. You wish the Caroline Polachek album sounded more like Enya and, though you hate to admit it, that Enya sounded less Ren Faire. This kind of long pork love song is your jam. Maybe that makes you the target audience? (It does mean you should post music recommendations in the comments.) Jónsi, Liz Fraser, A. G. Cook: Sigur Rós was your gateway into basically all other music. You should be the target audience, but find this a little watered-down compared to your thick, heady Icelandic nostalgia. Jónsi, A. G. Cook, Liz Fraser: You are the creators of this song, and you baffle us completely.

Thomas Inskeep: If you like glacial dream-pop, this is for you, especially the song’s first 3+ minutes. I prefer the back half, where “Cannibal” develops a bit of texture, and gives Cocteau queen Fraser more to do, entwining her voice with Jónsi’s and making this almost a full-on ambient vocal duet.

Leah Isobel: “Cannibal” is a productive meeting of the minds, balancing Jónsi’s whimsy and melodic sweetness with A. G. Cook’s digital fetishization and postmodern melancholy. The result toggles between the verses’ macabre ASMR — the feeling I get from the vocal production is what I imagine annoying people get from the word “moist” — and gentle preciousness in the chorus. I dig the tension between those two states, but I wish they’d found more for Elizabeth! Fucking! Fraser! to do than act as a ghostly backing vocalist.

Juana Giaimo: Sigur Rós meant the world to me as a teenager, but then I grew up and was no longer moved at all by them. Listening to “Cannibal,” I can hear what I used to love about Jónsi. His voice is still a little childlike, and the way that “Cannibal” slowly grows is warm and homey. But I also find it quite boring, and when Elizabeth Fraser’s ethereal voice appears, I realize that Jónsi’s voice sounds quite plain, and I remember how empty his music sounds to me today.

David Moore: Ack! Hopelandic! I beg of you!

Alfred Soto: As much as I admire-not-love these acts, their collaboration produces an attenuated ballad of interminable length. 

Will Adams: The processed vocal chant in the intro portends doom and gloom befitting the title, but strangely, it never returns, and instead “Cannibal” is Jónsi’s standard slow-build uplift. So where “Exhale”‘s take on the formula felt consistent, “Cannibal” feels a bit one-foot-in-one-foot-out. Still, there’s a lot to like. A. G. Cook’s sharp ornaments provide texture to the otherwise soft arrangement, Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals add a ghostly dimension, and the repetition of “it’s only out of love” — following the visceral, mordant lyrics — evoke that same sinister feeling from the intro.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: I’m going to make the sickest Hannigram fanvid to this.

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