Jónsi – We Bought A Zoo

written by: January 27, 2012
Release Date: Dec 13, 2011


Director Cameron Crowe partnered up with Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi to score his newest big-screen movie We Bought a Zoo. Other Sigur Rós tracks have earned a warm welcome on the big-screen (some say the songs they composed for his 2001 thriller Vanilla Sky gave the film the outer-spacey feel that was lacking from the directorial side), so it’s no surprise that Crowe asked them to compose a whole soundtrack. Jónsi’s tracks for the score are everything a Sigur Rós fan would expect: cheerful, bubbly, and filled with childish, multi-dimensional-magic—perfect for a movie about a zoo.

Some songs off the We Bought a Zoo album are recycled from Jónsi’s latest solo album Go, but given the enthusiasm with which that album was received, it seems no one’s complaining.  Most of Sigur Rós’s tracks are a composition of playful and out-of-this-world material, but Jónsi takes his tracks to a whole new dimension of liveliness. His music is so cinematic, which is what makes his partnership with Crowe so spectacular.

The first song on the album, “Why Not,” begins calmly and serenely. The touch of piano keys is simple and pure, and creates a comfortable atmosphere. It is a perfect example of what Jonsi has tried to achieve with his solo career—relaxation amongst chaos.  The soft vocals and guitar that arrive later in the song captivate the listener and set the mood for the rest of the score.

“Gathering Stories” is a track off the album that varies immensely from the rest. It was co-written by Crowe and shows a new side to Jonsi that differs much from all of Sigur Rós usual tracks.. The song marks the shift on the album, introducing songs that are more upbeat and poppy. The tones of “Gathering Stories” blend in well with older pieces like “Go Do” and “Boy Lilikoi,” which are both adapted from Go. They are also the only tracks on the album that include full lyrics, which evoke a lot of emotion from the otherwise lyric-less soundtrack.

“Hoppopilla” is another vintage track, this time from Sigur Rós’s album Takk, included on the soundtrack.  The song is possibly the best representation of Sigur Rós on the soundtrack, and also utilizes their elfish, indecipherable language they use in a lot of their work. “Hoppopilla” is full of piano twinkles and floaty vocals. The strings and the vocals create a sense of euphoria that works its way into the movie in just the right way.

Sure, We Bought A Zoo recycles many of Sigur Rós’s songs as well as Jónsi’s solo tracks, but the brand new tracks make this whole album worth the while.  The thing that’s so special about many of these songs is that although they are utilized and make a presence alongside the movie, they can also stand alone and not lose one ounce of magic.

Jónsi – We Bought a Zoo tracklist:

  1. “Why Not”
  2. “AEvin Endar”
  3. “Boy Lilikoi”
  4. “Sun”
  5. “Brambles”
  6. “Sinking Friendships”
  7. “We Bought a Zoo”
  8. “Hoppipolla”
  9. “Snaerisendar”
  10. “Sink”
  11. “Go Do”
  12. “Whole Made of Pieces”
  13. 13. “Humming”
  14. 14. “First Day”
  15. 15. “Gathering Stories” (co-written by Cameron Crowe)