album reviews

Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy
FatCat (2007)

At its core, the Icelandic band Múm is still an electronic group: "A Little Bit, Sometimes," from its latest CD, "Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy," practically shudders as its beats dance with an accordion, and the glitches that accompany the heavenly voices on "Winter (What We Never Were After All)" sound like the icy season that the group must know so well. But the departure of Kristin Anna Valtysdottir, the group's primary singer, has made room for the group to take a new direction vocally.

The opening track, "Blessed Brambles," features pulsing male voices that sound like a mellower version of "Sung Tongs"-era Animal Collective. That freak-folksy feel continues on the dreamy "These Eyes Are Berries," whose nearly nonsensical lyrics ("These berries are eyes/Your eyes, my eyes/Birds turn their necks/To stare at them") collide with a plinking bell-like keyboard.

Where Valtysdottir was breathy and impressionistic, the male-female unison singing on "Dancing Behind My Eyelids" is wispy and dramatic. The underlying skittish beats, though, are still pure Múm, and as they creak and groan beneath those vocals, they invoke images of eyelids fluttering awake after a long slumber.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 2 November 2007, Page WE08
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