I’ve written about Þeyr before, and I’d pretty much put them up against anyone other than maybe Purrkur Pillnikk as being the most important band in Icelandic music. Yeah, yeah, I l know… The Sugarcubes, Björk, Sigur Rós… yada yada yada. All great. And Björk’s pre-Sugarcubes band Tappi Tíkarrass would get strong consideration and probably be part of my “Icelandic Holy Trinity.” Because these are the bands that helped that scene turn the corner to become the amazing community that it is today. And they deserve to be celebrated. Because they still sound awesome 30+ years later.
Lunaire was Þeyr’s swan song, their last release, a three song 7″ that came out in 1983. I’ve been coveting this for a while and finally found a nice copy for a good price on Discogs, and I couldn’t be happier. “The Walk” has that indescribable but instantly recognizable weird Þeyr sound/timing in the music, a borderline experimental piece but one that fits in well with much of their catalog. “Positive Affirmation” more fully embraces the core post-punk sound, with the moody Joy Division-esque vocals and hauntingly relentless beat. It doesn’t let up, just keeps chipping away at you with it’s creepy consistency and deep echoey singing, with just the occasional burst of guitar to give you any sense of breaking free. Then you flip it over and find that the band played a dirty trick on you – the two songs on one side play at 33 1/3, while the other side is at 45 rpm. Bastards! But that song, “Lunaire,” is possibly the greatest departure the band made from its “sound,” a raw, raspy, underproduced bundle of pure energy and insanity and emotion and angst. Whereas “Positive Affirmation” was methodically relentless, “Lunaire” makes you anxious with it’s drive, getting the heart rate up and and making you uncomfortable in sitting still.
It’s a bummer that Þeyr’s production was so limited – they’re entire output was less than 40 songs between 1980-83. I guess that’s a decent number, but man I would like for there to be one more album worth of stuff. It just wasn’t meant to be though, and I’m grateful for what we have.