It's been said that Reykjavik's hipness is uniquely informed by its topography--as if unusually potent forces flow from the area's lava rock directly into the guitars and laptops of the locals. That particular landscape is responsible for Sigur Ros's epic soundscapes, Gus Gus's dance tracks, and Múm's second original album--the last of which sounds inspired by natural hot springs rather than barren volcanic terrain.
Múm's Finally We Are No One is a warm, gurgling album that can send you napping blissfully. The young group (two fellas plus twin sisters, all in their early-to-mid-20s) work up guileless soundtracks that would be perfect for a melancholy space picnic. Their music box rolls along, interweaving cello, accordion, glockenspiel, melodica, and Moog synths with glitchy laptop rhythms. And their compositions are so organic that the listener has to play some tracks dozens of times before discovering their structure. Tunes such as "We Have a Map of the Piano" are a bit easier to latch onto: Its female vocals seem straight out of the British shoegazer library. (Fittingly, the band is currently recording a tune for a Slowdive tribute compilation.) And "I Can't Feel My Hand Any More, It's Alright, Sleep Still" sounds comfortably forlorn, seemingly capturing the mood of the remote Icelandic lighthouse where the album was recorded.
Throughout Finally We Are No One, Múm's lullabies maintain a delicate hold on a kind of rare innocence. If the album suffers from anything, it's that there are few noticeable twists and turns within each song, just gradually shifting moods. The overall atmosphere of "K/Half Noise," for instance, is womblike, and it's a good three minutes before a chamber-music theme develops. But perhaps all of this is intentional: In recent interviews, the band has explained that the album's title refers to the feeling of being lost in the music, giving yourself up to the sound. Finally We Are No One isn't quite that intoxicating. But its burbling ballads could easily inspire a new and dangerous fad: the wearing of headphones in hot tubs.
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