Get That Worm
Imagine you’re walking through the woods on a sunny afternoon surrounded by squirrels cracking acorns on tree roots, caterpillars inching across green leaves, dragonflies buzzing through hollow logs, sparrows and jays singing in the branches overhead. Imagine you’re a kid again. Set a soundtrack to this adventure and you’re probably listening to múm.
The group’s latest release, Early Birds, is actually nothing new, so to speak. As the title suggests, this is a collection of early recordings, demos, B-sides, rarities and so-called forgotten tracks. Early Birds is a fine record for die-hard fans and casual listeners alike. This is an almost entirely instrumental album, so there isn’t much of the pop-friendly singalong kind of songs we’ve seen on múm’s last couple of albums.
Any fan of múm is well acquainted with their ability to craft sounds, and the group’s melodic skills are showcased here as much as in any other release to date. One of the album’s strongest cuts, “Hvernig á að særa vini sína” opens on a poppy bass hook with megaphone whispers; it’s actually hard to believe you’re not listening to The Pixies.
Overall, as can be expected from any múm release, the album starts off quiet and ends quieter on a final track that is almost as long as its name: “Enginn vildi hlusta á fiðlunginn, því strengir hans vóru slitnir (getiði ekki verið góð við mömmu okkar)”. This ten-minute wandering recording of cozy accordion melodies and outdoor recordings almost seems like a happy accident. Imagine you’re in an open-air market listening to a group of busking middle-school folk music prodigies.
It’s almost impossible, and ultimately pointless, to try to put múm in a box. They’ve gone through significant line-up changes and just recently begun to really hone their sound and develop a tight sense of togetherness in their music. Early Birds lacks that cohesiveness, but doesn’t necessarily suffer from it. The record is delightful from start to finish, whether it’s neatly programmed electronica or naturalistic farmhouse melodica jingles.
The Early Birds compilation offers the listener a unique glimpse into the early days of múm and is sure to make even the most jaded cynic smile from time to time. Check it out. Your inner child will thank you