Smilewound (Morr Music)
Result: 4.3 / 5
Eccentric Icelandic septet múm have returned with their sixth album, Smilewound, and to say it’s a smorgasbord of sound would be an understatement. múm are a band that have made their name by creating a type of music that revels in its own craziness, almost creating their own unique genre in the process. Smilewound definitely continues this trend but it seems múm have spent the four years since their previous album proper honing a sound that embraces a higher pop sheen than before. And nowhere is this better displayed than on album opener ‘Toothwheels’. The sumptuous beats and sultry synths slide through the track giving it a strong R’n’B feel and Sigurlaug Gisladottir’s breathy delivery makes the track sound like the band’s most accessible effort to date.
This isn’t to say múm have abandoned their quintessentially weird songwriting. Far from it. As the album progresses, tracks like ‘When Girls Collide’ and ‘Candlestick’ serve as a reminder that múm are still capable of producing their unique brand of off-the-wall, wonky pop, and sound like they’re having an imense amount of fun doing it. A particular stand out is the Bollywood infused ‘One Smile’, which comes dancing out of the speakers like a procession of Bangla priestesses on nitrous oxide.
As the album comes to a close, múm serve up a few surprises. ‘Time To Scream And Shout’ is a gloriously understated, glitchy ballad, the style of the music wonderfully juxtaposing its instruction. An off-kilter treat that múm do so well. The bonus track, ‘Breathe’, ensures Smilewound is bookended with two pop infused showcases. It’s also a duet with Kylie Minogue (I’m not joking). Not the most obvious collaboration perhaps, but listening to Smilewound, you realise that this pop pairing actually makes perfect sense. With Smilewound, múm display a cleaner, more accessible sound, but crucially do it without loosing any of their crazy charm.
Smilewound is out now in Morr Music.