Mum - Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy
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Mum
Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy

After what seems like an insanely prolific period of releases, Múm has been quiet for some time now. Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy is their first full-length album in over three years, and it finds them a largely different group than they were the last time out. Along the way, singer Kristin Valtysdottir left the group, and they found themselves stripped back to the original founding member duo of Gunnar Õrn Tynes and Õrvar Póreyjarson Smárason. These two started songs, then a slew of friends joined in for the recording, resulting in what is probably the largest group of people under the name Múm since they were founded.

Created in a variety of different places in Iceland, this twelve song, forty-five minute release actually sounds familiar, but different in some ways as well. In a lot of ways, it's sort of like what you might expect from the group, despite the lineup changes. The founding duo has found some breathy female vocalists to fill in for the departed Valtysdottir twins (although they don't have quite the child-like sound), and musically it's a big blend of organic and electronic elements, with perhaps a bit more of an emphasis on the former than in past work.

Perhaps not surprising is that the album is rather hit or miss. There are a handful of standout tracks, another handful of ones that are simply decent, and yet a couple more that don't really raise the pulse level at all. On a positive note, the great tracks are scattered at fairly regular intervals, and things start out solidly with "Blessed Brambles," a six-minute gem that mixes shuddering electronic loops, melodica, strings, guitar, lo-fi electronic blips, and chorus-style vocals into a song that's builds nicely throughout and dissolves into s sparkly finale. "These Eyes Are Berries" starts out with what sounds like a rather bland, repetitive vocal and chime progression, but shifts about halfway through before a massive, dubstep-style bassline drops and the song morphs into what sounds like a kaleidoscopic kids-show theme song gone bizarro.

Although it takes a bit to get going, the album standout is the first single "Dancing Behind My Eyelids," which bursts forth with strings, electronics, live drums, and more multi-part vocals in a way that it's impossible to not get swept up. Along the way, though, are quite a few songs that make Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy sound like more of a transition record than a fully-defined next release from the group. Considering the vast amount of different contributions (and the fact that many of the people contributing are in at least two other groups), it's possible that all of these different voices just made for a release that can't quite find steady footing. It's not a bad album by any means, but it doesn't contain the same level of magic that past releases by the group have.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2007-09-27 21:13:14