In light of their extremely young sound, it seems difficult to fathom that Múm are pretty much veterans in what is an increasingly impatient electronica scene. The iconic Icelandic group’s fourth album, Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy, marks ten years of Múm’s existence – and sees the crew whittled down to founding members Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Póreyjarson Smárason (with guests and friends).
Múm’s earliest works were always a little hit and miss, awkwardly balancing ‘quirkiness’, at-times excessive twee, rich post-rock composition and glitchy aspirations. Some of their flaws remain – the clumsiness of their more bombastic moments, for example. (There’s something about those attempts at grandeur that is simultaneously too much and not enough.)
But Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy delivers more on Múm’s promise than any other of their records to date. From time to time, Architecture in Helsinki’s In Case We Die springs to mind – a kindred document of inventive production and whimsical singalong. The record kicks off with a flurry of pop songs, if you could call them that, with their cut-up vocal samples, frantic percussion and twinkling tunes. ’Guilty Rocks’ chugs along at an assured pace, its melodic motifs hinting at some kind of question or problem. It’d be right at home on the soundtrack to a European arthouse film, all pomp and charm.
Album closer ‘Winter (Were We Never Were After All)’ suggests, in its muddy depths, a number of things – the distorted keys of Boards of Canada, the breathy vocals and dramatic turn of Soteria Bell, even the melody of ‘Albatross’. It’s a fitting end to a formidable record which finds itself full of ideas; the group’s most accomplished work yet.