Over the years, Icelandic experimental musical collective múm (pronounced “moom”) have seen a revolving door of musicians and singers, and they are a few years removed from the imaginative, crackling electronic fairy tales of their first two excellent albums, Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is OK (2000) and Finally We Are No One (2002). And while evolution is inevitable and change is often welcomed, such things can also lead to extinction. múm seem to have found a middle ground as the experimental orchestral pop on Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know may lose some old-time fans but will also gain them some new ones.
With a more than adequate replacement singer, sweet-flowing choruses abound, along with swells of delicate and orchestrated melodies, but the crackling electronics have given way to more acoustic instruments and strings, even though electronic remnants can be heard throughout. The playfulness is still there as well, only now it’s supplied by ukelele and slow piano tinkerings.
There are exceptions however. Like the snappy electronica of “Sing Along” that could be an outtake from one of the first two Looper albums. This segues quite nicely to the bouncy electro-pop of “Prophecies and Reversed Memories”. Flavored with a twist of Cabaret style, an almost danceable, catchy beat and dulcet, multi-tracked vocal harmonies, it’s the one track that will definitely be going through your head when the disc is over. Another of the more upbeat and electrified songs is “The Smell Of Today Is Sweet Like Breastmilk In The Wind”, that not only has a curious title, but employs a peculiar toy-like percussive beat straight from a Casio SK-1.
The bulk of the tracks though are slower, yet tastefully crafted, experimental pop songs with dreamy, sometimes seductive singing, while the musicians explore the outer edges of chamber pop with wispy tones and textures. But the album is not without it’s digressions as a couple tunes are slightly under-developed and lose their way in a pensive haze.
Overall, Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know is another fine example of how múm is evolving and continually expanding on their already diverse musical pallette. It may require a few spins before the quaint peculiarities become charming, but eventually the album will evoke the feeling of waking up late on a Saturday morning with vague memories of a good dream.
Recommended If You Like (RIYL): Venice Is Sinking, Stereolab, and The Books
Morr Music: www.morrmusic.com