Múm
Summer Make Good

By Ed Chamberlin

 
For people who make such gorgeous music, Múm certainly put themselves through hell to get there. Summer Make Good, their second album recorded in freezing and lonely lighthouses on the furthest reaches if Iceland, shows evidence of this isolation far more readily than 2002's excellent Finally We Are No One.

The album starts out at sea with Hú Hviss – a ship, a short atmospheric intro, complete with crashing waves and creaking wood. The first real song weeping rock, rock looms over the horizon with some uncharacteristically menacing bursts of distorted guitar and mournful horns. Múm still trade extensively on their woodpecker clicks and pops, but where they were once whimsical and playful, they are now chaotic and punishing. Kristín's lonely voice strains to be heard above the violent swirl of sounds. This darker sound signals a move into more serious musical territory for the band. It is their most mature album to date (although this is a band who once called a track I'm 9 Today).

Nightly Cares, the first single, works better in context of the album than it does by itself, but the ghosts you draw on my back improves on that track's chilling balladry. From here on, the extreme conditions of recording all but disappear, visible only in the song titles (The Island Of Children's Children, Oh How The Boat Drifts, Abandoned Ship Bells), and the album becomes a lot more friendly and approachable.

This, unfortunately is where the album starts losing its impact, and subsequently loses its grip on the listener. Múm have always been able to pull gorgeous melodies out of nowhere, with such consistency that they are yet to produce something truly bland. But they stray dangerously close to it as the album drifts to a close. The excitement and drama of the first few tracks is eventually lost and, by the final few tracks, there is little to keep you engaged.

Granted, songs such as Song Me Out The Window and The Island Of Children's Children are reminiscent of the better tracks from Finally We Are No One, and Will The Summer Make Good Of All Of Our Sins is deliciously eerie. But by the final chimes of Abandoned Ship Bells many will have lost interest. This works pretty well as ambient music, but it just seems like a waste after such an excellent start to the album.

Múm will be touring Britain later in April, which will give us all a chance to see their dramatic live shows, possibly with extra band members. As for their next album, well, if they can replicate the excitement of the first half of Summer Make Good, we're in for a treat. If, however, they produce much more music like the second half of the disc, the Icelandic trio may tarnish their so far perfect image.
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