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Smilewound

by Múm

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Alex Alexander
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Alex Alexander Múm are superbly curious and inventive. Combines the childlike joy of bleeps and bloops and glitchy beats with the emotional waves of bowed or pizzicato strings, all narrated by mysterious breathy winter-forest-imp vocals that nonetheless resound with human emotion. Lyrics use imagery that's striking and simple without being predictable or cliche, and can pivot in tone from intrigued to morbid to tender to absurdly joyful and yes it's very good. Favorite track: Toothwheels.
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about

You don’t need to be Freud to regard teeth as a delicate issue. They can make joy look joyous and pain look painful, and on the cover of the new múm album they do both at the same time. As „Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is Okay“ (2001), „Finally We Are No One“ (2002) and „Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know“ (2009) „Smilewound“ is another example of the band’s art of juxtaposing two conflicting meanings and taking advantage of the energy created through the tension between both.

Sparser in sound than many of its predecessors, „Smilewound“ is an airy, relaxed record. The múm-core-duo of Örvar and Gunni doesn’t make you laugh out loud (except maybe for the quirky vintage Arcade-sound-start of „When Girls Collide“), but it will make you smile often - despite the heavenly voices singing about violence in one form or another in most songs. Musically, múm’s capability to build playful electronic sound-ornaments around simple melodies is in full bloom. And these days they know that trimming the ornamentation can strengthen the melody. Take „The Colorful Stabwound“: an aguish drum’n’bass piece and„Smilewound“ gets close to a straight pop-song. Even that isn’t very close, but it combines its rhythmic strength with a simple yet effective piano-line and the soothing lushness of a female voice to something compelling that follows you like the smell of a delicate eau de toilette. Or „Candlestick“ which started out as a little ditty strummed on an acoustic guitar many years ago and has grown into this bouncy piece of synth-pop that changes its musical colours every couple of beats until you feel comfortably dizzy. Perfect pop in very fancy clothes. No wonder that antipodean pop-princess Kylie Minogue wanted to collaborate with múm on the „Whistle“, the main song in 2012-movie „Jack & Diane“.
Recorded in, among other places, the band’s practice-space, an old baltic farmhouse and on the kitchen-table after dinner, the album was produced by múm themselves. And being the revolving collective they are, it comes as no surprise that we see the return of former member Gyda. Defining satellites as part of the core fits nicely with the band’s penchant for ambivalence - in fact that's part of the album's charm.

credits

released September 6, 2013

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