múm – Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know

Review Score: 5.7

múm really want to evolve. If 2007’s Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy toyed more or less with this notion and tried to stray from the electronic glitch that made them famous, this newest album takes that concept and runs with it. Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know leaves early work such as 2000’s Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is OK in the backseat in favor of what can only be described as múm’s take on an indie-pop album.

Predictably this brings Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know a ton of backlash and anger from long time múm fans that no doubt feel betrayed and abandoned because the sound they’ve come to love isn’t there anymore. While this isn’t by any standards a great album the sheer amount of hate it spawned does seem a bit too much, you can’t really blame a band for wanting to evolve.

While you can tell it’s a múm record, knowing their past work does make Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know seem quite tame and uneventful. It still has their characteristic style, only in a more restrained way. The problem is that all this restraining of the glitchy IDM that was the backbone of past records isn’t counter balanced by any big innovation or addition to the musical repertoire. So they took something out without putting anything else in. This of course leaves the album feeling barren and  listening to it one generally gets the feeling that something is lacking.

Indeed the only songs that feel “complete” are Sing Along and The Smell of Today is Sweet Like the Breastmilk in the Wind. What they both have in common is a generally more upbeat tempo and fuller more complex arrangement and structure.  Especially The Smell of… is a great piece of electro-pop that shows múm do indeed have what it takes to make such an album, it’s just a shame the rest of the songs don’t live up to it.

In a few years I hope I’ll be able to view Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know as a step múm had to take to reach the next level of their musical ability. For now though, it’s just a disappointment.


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July 2009
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