Elevate Difference

Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know

I have never been one to accept iTunes’ genre classifications of the music I purchase. Yes, the categories can be useful, but they never quite fit with my personal interests. As soon as the tracks are downloaded, I quickly listen to the album and decide where it fits amongst my feisty feminist punk rock, hipster late-night sing-alongs, or classical acoustic sleep inducers (to name a few). Admittedly, I am a little bit of a control freak and perhaps a tad obsessive.

On the other hand, the reductionist labeling of ‘indie’ or ‘pop’ is nowhere near as maddening as the genre given to Múm’s recently-released fifth studio album Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know: “unclassifiable.” What does that mean? Is it insulting, or perhaps, empowering by the very lack of constraints? The queer equivalent of music labeling?

Either way, the group’s new album has clearly demonstrated their ability to evolve with their effortless intermixing of guitar, rhythmic percussion, bizarre electronic grooves and eerie, smooth vocals that produces something within and above the genres of pop, folk and electronica. Arguably their most accessible album, Múm has moved away from their original pure, electronic sound to a more folksy-experimental style. Reading some of the reviews, it is clear that some fans of the original ethereal vocals of the Valtýsdóttir twins (replaced in 2007) have been resistant to the change and the group’s new whimsical, romantic sound. However, while the album definitely has a childish element, the lyrics and vocals are far from cute, with repetitive lines like: “You are so beautiful to us. We want to keep you as our pet.”

Definitely listen to the album and decide for yourself. If you are interested in exploring their earlier albums, you can stream some of the tracks on their MySpace page. While you are online, also check out their webpage to find out about tour dates, watch the music video of their track “Sing Along,” and more. Their new album has something refreshing for both new listeners and old fans alike, especially for those that are willing to grow with the group in their constantly evolving, “unclassifiable” experimental sound.

Written by: Abigail Chance, December 19th 2009

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