It’s finals season here on the Hilltop, which means a lot of us are in desperate need of some quality tunes to keep us surviving but maybe not thriving through exams. Look no further than Iceland’s best, Ásgeir, the lifeblood of singer/songwriter music and my study motivation. Icelandic native Ásgeir is back with his second studio-album, Afterglow, and it is just as ethereal as it sounds. This album features Ásgeir’s characteristic organic instrumentals, uplifting electronics, and his otherworldly voice, though it seems to do so in a bolder fashion than his first work, In the Silence.
Born Ásgeir Trausti, the singer-songwriter was raised in the Icelandic village of Laugarbakki, a town with only 40 residents. He was first a nationally ranked javelin-thrower before turning to a career in music. At age seventeen, he held Iceland’s record for longest javelin throw (casual), and was dedicated to pursuing the life of an athlete. After injuring his back, Ásgeir turned to his second love of music for direction and inspiration. Out of this transformation came Dyrd í dauðathogn, aka In the Silence, which became a best-selling album that he later re-recorded in English.
I fist discovered Ásgeir when going through my singer/songwriter phase, and stumbled upon his song “King and Cross” when exploring artists related to Bon Iver, Ben Howard, and James Blake. I immediately became addicted to his atmospheric sound, which has continued to shine through on Afterglow. Stream the album below, and here’s a breakdown of a few of my favorite tracks.
The title track uses a single word, “Afterglow,” to set a haunting and celestial tone for the entire album. Ásgeir’s brother and his poet father also contributed to lyrics on this track.
Favorite lyric: “Wonderland is at hand / all abiding under your shine / revel in all that you disclose”
This track is the first single Ásgeir released in preparation for the full-length album. This song is about living in the now and not getting stuck in the past on what we can’t change. We could all use a dose of this song right about now.
This song features a choppy, jolting cadence that is jarring and soothing at the same time, all while speaking on ideas of devotion and growth.
Favorite lyric: “Though my soul may set in darkness / It will rise in light”
“I Know You Know”
This song is a wondrous juxtaposition of thoughtful and deliberate lyrics of longing with optimistic instrumentals.
Favorite lyric: “Oh, how I long for light/ A light that won’t leave me / Never to go away”
This track explores themes of oblivion and loneliness, with a whispery delivery in vocals. For me, the soulfulness of this album is encapsulated in this track.
Favorite lyric: “Leaving all I know behind / Now I know I’m dreaming / I follow every line that leads to you”