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Múm – 'Smilewound' album review

A lush and joyous instalment of Icelandic electronica, with the occasional curveball

Fighting the temptation to cram ‘your mum’ jokes into any review of leftfield Icelandic band Múm is tough, but a quick listen to the delicate, glistening electronic pop of their back catalogue is enough to numb the threat of cheap gags. Their new album ‘Smilewound’ follows a similar pattern, mixing glitched, bouncy riffs with hushed singing and colourful melodies – a familiar mix these days, but these Icelandic experimentalists are field leaders here.

As well as plenty of lush tracks that live up the usual Múm standards (like opener ‘Toothwheel’), ‘Smilewound’ has a few gentle curveballs. ‘Candlestick’, for example finds the band risking leftfield synth-pop, complete with La Roux-ish vocals. Thankfully, it works perfectly (and sounds better than La Roux). Album closer ‘Whistle’ (actually released in 2012 for the soundtrack to hybrid love/monster film ‘Jack & Diane’) even has whispery vocals by Kylie Minogue, though it’s one of the album’s weaker tracks.

A few songs are just too airy, even twee, for their own good – ‘Slow Down’ is just too damn slow and the smiley sing-along of ‘Sweet Impressions’ leaves a sour taste. But overall ‘Smilewound’ is a joyous album that you’ll want to cuddle up to. Buy this album here

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