sun 24/01/2021

CD: múm – Smilewound | reviews, news & interviews

CD: múm – Smilewound

CD: múm – Smilewound

Icelanders return after a long absence and a brief encounter with Kylie Minogue

'Smilewound': recognisably a múm album

The last album released by Iceland’s múm was Early Birds, an archive trawl from 2012 which unearthed previously unheard material recorded between 1998 and 2000. Before that was 2009’s Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know. Smilewound is a comeback, and a welcome one. It’s also a statement of who múm are and closer in sound to an early album like Finally We Are No One than the – for them – relatively grandiose …Songs You Don't Know.

The last album released by Iceland’s múm was Early Birds, an archive trawl from 2012 which unearthed previously unheard material recorded between 1998 and 2000. Before that was 2009’s Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know. Smilewound is a comeback, and a welcome one. It’s also a statement of who múm are and closer in sound to an early album like Finally We Are No One than the – for them – relatively grandiose …Songs You Don't Know.

For Smilewound, múm’s core duo Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason are reunited with founder member Gyða Valtýsdóttir. Kylie Minogue also crops up. Despite this potential distraction, Smilewound is recognisably a múm album – glitchey electronic rhythms unite organically with delicate, hymnal melodies; keyboards weave like fireflies through feather-light vocals. In the main, the big-band or folk elements of the past are no longer present. Even when things begin getting hot and bothered on the snappy, drum & bass-influenced “The Colorful Stabwound”, the mood is curbed by the unhurried gentleness of an impending sunrise.

Minogue appears on the album’s closer, “Whistle”. Her collaboration, co-written with the band, was recorded in Iceland for the 2012 film Jack & Diane. So integral is she to the song and so strong is the band’s identity, her presence wouldn’t be noticed if she weren’t credited. More conspicuous is the yearningly soulful “Sweet Impressions” which had been originally destined for Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know, but not issued then and subsequently recorded by fellow Icelanders Hjaltalín (their Högni Egilsson was in múm at the time and co-wrote the song). Smilewound probably won’t bring múm a new audience but happily, if rather belatedly, it confirms their unique outlook.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Overleaf: watch the video for “Toothwheels” from múm’s Smilewound

Even when things begin to get hot and bothered the mood is curbed by an unhurried gentleness

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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