If múm were just an instrumental band, their glitchy ambient electronica and gloriously tuneful elements appliquéd to matt-machined surfaces would make them a serious force to be reckoned with. Theirs is the sort of music – edgy but just hummable – that the tooth-fairy has on her Walkman as she goes about her slightly sinister night-job.
But múm (the Icelandic quartet of gunnar örn tynes, örvar fióreyjarson smárason, kristín anna and gyda valtysdóttir) have a secret weapon – and it’s not the accordions, the cellos, the music boxes, or the clunky retro Fisher Price music-making devices that have become their hallmark. It’s those twin’s voices! Breathy, whispered, strangely accented, both intimate and innocent. Like listening to Tinkerbelle in the bath. Apart from a bit of la-la-la-ing on ‘there is a number of small things’, there was only one vocal track on their highly-praised 2000 début album – ‘Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today is OK’ – but those voices of kristín and gyda’s exploded out of ‘the ballad of the broken birdie records’ like a little clusterbomblet of delightfulness. On ‘Finally We Are No-One’ they’re a little more present, but still only in four tracks out of eleven. What a tease.
All due respect, incidentally, to the fifth floating member – Samuli Kosminen – whose psychotic demolition derby drumming finely counterpoints the extended slow lyricism of Track 11 – ‘the land between solar systems’ – to make of this final track an epic, elemental conclusion to a uniquely distinctive album.