mumsing along to songs you don't know
    • FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2009

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    There is no explanation for love. It finds you where it finds you, when it finds you. It is instantly recognizable; a titanic force of energy, emotion, and runaway hormones. Of course, it's also impossible to define (please disregard my previous efforts to define it). Why so obnoxiously mushy for the moment? I don't know. Maybe it's the changing of the seasons...that always gets me. Most likely though, it's got more to do with Mum's fifth studio album, Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know (Euphono). Love, it seems, is the very thing that's churning at the center of this Icelandic band's brilliant pop brainstorm.

    Immediately flavoring Sing Along with gobs of such affection, the band leads with an inquisitive string of lines. "If I were a fish and you were a seashell/Would you marry me anyway?/Would you have my babies?". In nature - something I imagine Iceland to be utterly ripe in - the band suggests love's almighty power, as mysterious as it may be, knows no boundaries. Perhaps there is something to be taken away from that. To prove it, the band connects the dots with more themes of devotion throughout. On "A River Don't Stop to Breathe", vocalists Gunnar rn Tynes, Hildur Gunadttir, and Sigurlaug Gsladttir suggest "A river don't stop to breathe... The river flows like you and I/A lover don't stop to breathe...The lovers flow like you and I". A constant force - one which does exactly as it does - is a beautiful thing. "Show Me" also echoes a similar sort of sentiment ("Show me the way you worship little things...Show me the way you worship everything").

    Mum's knack for molding inventive pop skirmishes with these appealing themes makes Sing Along fairly easy to fall for, especially for the romantics in the room. Not only that, but their primary concern seems to be how to share such doe eyed optimism with you, their beloved listener. They adore you, after all. Look no further than the album's title track. Proclaiming "You are so beautiful to us/We want to keep you as our pet", "Sing Along" breaks down that pesky barrier between artist and audience, demanding you to do your part. After all, "You never know what could happen if you don't sing along". Solid reasoning indeed.

    All of this unfolds to dreamlike, musical textures that are of equal enchantment. Here jumpy vocal cadences, nifty percussive rhythms (programmed, triggered, and acoustic), lush orchestrations, and gobs of oddball instrumentation (ukeleles, mouth harps, melodicas, oh my!) tread the same sonic space. Look no further than "Prophecies and Reversed Memories" for the band's most enthralling example of this.

    In the end, the album concludes with "Ladies of the New Century"; a cinematic, yet delicate tune that's simple in its' hesitant piano lines and lithe vocals. With it, Mum provide an opportunity to reflect on the musical experience that just passed. Personally (Queue more mushy-ness), I can't help thinking the members of Mum are utterly delighted, if not sort of stunned, by both their own existence, and everything that's flying about them in this wild and wacky world. They see excitement in the day-to-day, magic in the mundane, and absolute wonder in nature. They love life (there is that word again), and will stop at nothing to live it (proclaiming "We are not afraid to die" in "The Smell of Today is Sweet Like Breast Milk in the Wind"). Mum, then, is an is an idea and Sing Along To Songs You Don't Know is their vision for your consideration. Chances are, you'll love it..even if you don't know it yet. David Pitz

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