Mum-Smilewound-2013-Vinile-lp21

Formed in 1997 Mum (the Icelandic band not the Danish prog rock band of the same name) have released six critically acclaimed albums to date and combine modern classical, post-rock, electronica and pop elements in their unique sound.

“Smilewound” is mines the same genres as their previous releases but stands out as its much more percussive. It’s very much Colleen’s “The Weighing of the Heart” (2013) in that it has an intimate , emotive and steady pace but contains a lot of percussive sounds both from drums and instruments like guitar and plucked violin. The album opens with ‘Toothwheels’ which combines a crunchy beat crushed beat and minimal delayed electric piano melody with the occasional interjection from a violin (both plucked and bowed). Around a minute in the female vocals come in bringing with them a simple distorted synth melody. I like how the piano’s role becomes dominate and expressive as the track progresses. ‘When Girls Collide’ utilises a great skipping electronic beat and echoing digital (FM) synth melody alongside slippery resonant synth bass line. The female vocals come in and the melody gets tighter and rougher with a hint of delay on the vocals. Things get more harmonically complex when a male vocal joins in a refrain around 3 minutes in.  ‘Candlestick’ with its FM synth melody, robust chugging synth bass line, 8 bit upbeat drums and reverberate female vocals, makes for a great alternative pop song.

Up next its ‘One Smile’ on which a xylophone plays a pretty melody over crunchy 8 bit drums before an insistent drum ‘n’ bass acoustic beat kicks and a guitar riffs funky on top. Violin swoops and adds yet more drama and tension and is swiftly joined by the female vocals and rhythm acoustic guitar. ‘Eternity Is the Wait Between Breaths’ combines adelayed  bitty digital synth with a xylophone melody which comes around the 2 minute mark, swiftly followed by yearning but dischordant bowed violin. There’s a good contrast between the three elements. A plucked violin enters around 3 minutes in and the track temporarily gains some forward momentum. The album closes with ‘Whistle’ featuring pop star Kylie Minogue on vocals. She’s backed by a delayed synth/xylophone melody acoustic piano chords and very fast pattering drums. An huge echo is added to her vocals around 2 minutes 30 seconds in then the drums drops out only to come back harder, pounding and the violin and vocals scale the heights together. It’s another great alternative pop song.

Overall, I liked “Smilewound” but as with previous Mum albums I’ve not been fully convinced by it, there seems to either something missing or the music lacks something that keeps you going back for more. It’s by no means a bad album but it might be a grower that needs time to reveal all its charms.

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