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Thursday, September 24, 2015

múm -- Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know

 photo 220px-Sing_Along_to_Songs_You_Dont_Know_zps0xsk2z5m.jpg

But I don't want to sing along to songs I don't know! I don't want every band that I like to turn into a damn folk band! Stop-it bands! Brett Detar, shave your beard and get back to rocking! Chris Carrabba, why are you Twin Forking it when you could be Further Seems Forevering? What is wrong with the world? Near the turn of the past decade, even Sigur Rós, múm's Icelandic neighbors, released their version of a folk album. mewithoutYou released a folk album within days of múm's Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know, and they had and have no business EVER releasing a folk album. I don't know why the late 00's infected so many bands with the evil folk bug, but it seems to be dying off a little now...maybe...please? But in 2009, former electronic-based band, múm, decided they were no longer an electronic-based band, but a folk one, and released Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know. Miraculously...
For Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know's first four tracks, the change in style works really, really well. Múm had, in all honesty, been heading in this direction since their inception, adding more acoustic instruments and more vocals with every album. Here, those elements finally overtake, with the electronics almost relegated to an afterthought, with all matter of folksy sounding instruments, horns, and a bunch of things that tinkle in their place.
Sing Along... starts with great momentum, the gentle, endearing melancholy of "If I Were a Fish" feeding into the bizarre fun of the almost title-track, "Sing Along." Sing along to songs you don't know/and you'll never know until you sing along/You are so beautiful to us/We want to lock you in our house/So beautiful! male and female vocals intone enthusiastically over a simple, fast-paced arrangement. This quickened pace feeds directly into my favorite track from this album, "Prophecies and Reversed Memories," a high-energy piece with a very fun and diverse instrumentation. Here's a cool live-version from some French park, no big deal:

"A River Don't Stop to Breathe" continues the positive momentum with a gorgeous string arrangement and a tempo that fits its title. After this song, I hesitate to say things go downhill, as there aren't any awful songs, and there are a few genuinely beautiful moments, like the hazy shadow of "The Last Shapes of Never," but nothing is as faced-paced and enjoyable as what is found on that opening third. The album just sort of peters out at the end, with some slower, less impression-making songs. So while a múm folk album is far from a disaster, and Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know actually makes for a pretty pleasant listening experience, I'd rather múm stick to what they do...know.

2009 Morr Music
1. If I Were a Fish 4:16
2. Sing Along 5:39
3. Prophecies and Reversed Memories 4:06
4. A River Don't Stop to Breathe 4:45
5. The Smell of Today Is Sweet Like Breastmilk in the Wind 4:47
6. Show Me 3:45
7. Húllabbalabbalúú 3:27
8. Blow Your Nose 4:07
9. Kay-Ray-Kú-Kú-Kó-Kex 3:57
10. The Last Shapes of Never 2:27
11. Illuminated 4:09
12. Ladies of the New Century 3:45

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