Will the summer make good for all of our sins?
After twenty years, you can count on one hand the number of summers that sounded like a Beach Boys song; all sun, sea and carefree romance, reverie and contentment. Most of the time they don’t turn out like that.
At least Múm’s third album tries to redress the balance. Summer Make Good is a record of rolling clouds and confusion, heatstroke and solitude. While its fever-dream woodwind, glaring guitars and music-box chimes paint a scene of serenity, the clash of doomsaying-drums, discord and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir's weightless whisper of a voice adds a depth and complexity you wouldn’t expect.
Crumpling the elongated song-structures of their last record into four-minute gems, the album is also markedly quieter. It relies even more on Valtýsdóttir’s fragile voice and the band’s heavily-layered patchwork of found-sounds and atmospherics. On the gently-evolving, unspeakably gorgeous Weeping Rock, Rock, a crescending clatter of synthetic strings, bass squelches and Icelandic la-la-la’s gives way to her childlike vocals, before allowing a super-melodic guitar line to ride the tide of boiling noise.
This is not an album of ‘songs.’ Indeed, much of the record wafts calmingly past, peppered by the faint, indecipherable sighs and pristine chimes, played out above a duvet of dark atmospherics.
It’s not a perfect album. Some of the instrumentals, such as the inessential, static-ridden Away, simply trundle past without leaving any footprints, and you’re occasionally left longing for some of the more crystalline pop moments from their last record. Also, it’s safe to say that Valtýsdóttir’s voice is an acquired taste. Some will simply wish to hurl over their stereos upon hearing it’s fey, naïve innocence. But these missteps simply come as a consequence of their constant obsession with conjuring beauty, and although they stop the record from being truly special, they don’t grate or annoy either.
So will the summer make good for all our sins? Probably not. But with a tender, smouldering album of drifting, rudderless beauty, Múm have conjured a record that dances with darkness, bathes in sunshine and treads the tightrope between tension and tranquillity, placing a soft hand on your shoulder, telling you everything’s going to be alright.
8Neil Robertson's Score