Múm | Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy

mum go smear the poison ivy 002 Múm | Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy

Múm has shrunk, but their sound has gotten bigger. With the departure of Kristin Valtýsdóttir (and with her, the overly-precious pixie vocals which prevented me from ever fully enjoying any of the previous three full-length albums,) the founding duo of Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason have crafted a group of songs that manage to be both their quirkiest and their catchiest to date.

From the opening guitar chords of “Blessed Brambles,” muted to the point of becoming percussion beneath the harmonica and strings that delineate a plaintive melody, it is clear that Múm is still capable of the twitchy, convoluted instrumentation paired with dashes of dead-on pop sensibilities that has made them one of Iceland’s better known exports.

But, where in the past they may have fallen into occasional perverse noodlings, on Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy Múm have exercised better editorial restraint. Don’t fear that they’ve gone all pop—tracks like “They Made Frogs Smoke ‘Til They Exploded,” which layers scratchy drums over crusty, video game synth loops before falling into a break full of whistles and accordion and “School Song Misfortune,” which piles brushwork breakbeats on oboe and clarinet, will never crop up on MTV. But the album deserves a place in the collection of anyone who can appreciate the melancholy, limpid piano melody of “Moon Pulls” perfectly placed before the slow, percolating trumpet and crunchy bass synth grandeur of “Marmalade Fires.”

Review by Peter Nicholson, BPM Magazine

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