Múm have gone just a little further into weirdsville with "Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy," their fourth album of chilly, quirky pop.
This time, the Icelandic experimental band sounds a little less chilly and distant, and they rely a little more heavily on glitchy, hazy circus sounds than on icy folk. And they try to cover their bases with their catchiest -- and most bizarre -- songs to date.
It opens with an odd twanging melody, which sounds like someone trying to figure out if a stringed instrument is actually playable. As guitar, flute and strings weave their way in, it begins to bloom into a smooth, warm little song. "Bless the weeds that grow beyond/Just like rain and dust appear," they croon in unison. "Go, go smear the poison ivy/Let your crooked hands be holy..."
It's followed by "A Little Bit, Sometimes," a sensual, tinkly little electro-accordion melody. And the songs that follow are no less odd: bouncy glitchpop, mellow piano ballads and swirling tinkly melodies, mournful psych-blues, driving glitch-rock, sprightly folkpop, and experimental jumbles of colourful, trickling, completely confusing music.
Múm has always been about the pretty, folky, icy pop music with plenty of experimental flourishes. And fundamentally, they stick to that in "Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy," with all sorts of odd instrumentation and electronic layers.
And yet, something is different -- Múm seems to dance from sparkling sonic mosaics to sprightly, driving indiepop at the drop of a hat. They infuse their music with a dizzying array of instruments -- melodica, acoustic guitar, accordion, rushing piano melodies, xylophone, mournful horns, flutes, and even a lonely harmonica. And, of course, glitchy hazy waves of synth are wrapped around almost everything.
Their otherworldly-pop sound is enhanced by the wispy chorale of mellow, soft voices, no matter how creepy the songs are ("If you snap it like a twig/Glue it back with little sticks"). Most of them are pretty creepy if you know the words, even during their more poetry-laden moments ("These berries are eyes/Your eyes, my eyes/Birds turn their necks/Stare at them, long for them...").
"Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy" is Múm's eeriest -- and creepiest -- album to date, a divinely pretty musical trip, with some really weird songs. Like listening to a bunch of elves on acid.