To say that last year was a breakout one for Múm would probably be a slight understatement. Not only did they release their very well-received Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK album, but they followed it up later in the year with Please Smile My Noise Bleed, an album-length release of a couple new tracks and remixes. In addition to those two releases, the foursome had another entirely different disc of remixes come out on Fat Cat, and they had a collaboration on the Nart Nibbles release.
Now, just over a year later, they've back with their second true full-length release. To say that it was an anticipated one would also probably be an understatement, and depending on which parts of their first disc you enjoyed, you may find yourself a bit conflicted with this one. While it does hold many many things in common with their last release, the most noticible difference is that the group definitely sounds more like a an actual band. The clever drum programming and subtle use of electronics is still one of the things that makes their music so solid, but those elements have been pushed into the background a little more on the disc, allowing more singing and actual organic instrumentation to surface.
After a short opening track of shimmering electronics, the album starts off in earnest with "Green Grass Of Tunnel." Layering keyboards, a quiet bassline, and some stringed instruments over a bed of gurgling beats, the track features light female vocals by the twin members of the group (sung in English even). It's as close to a 'pop' song that the group has ever done, and while fans of the more electronic side of the group may cry "Twee!" they make it sound so darn effortless that it's hard to find any fault with it. The third track "We Have A Map Of The Piano" contains several of the same elements, and the slowly changing bassline and piano provide another warm bed of sound over a dusty-sounding beat. A melodica melody near the end mimics the two part vocals and drifts even higher upward.
"Don't Be Afriad, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed" follows as a downright giddy electronic track, with a bit of trumpet and only a touch of vocals coming in at the end while "K/Half Noise" builds from nearly nothing into an absolutely gorgeous layered track in which stringed instruments play alongside light keyboards and a skittering rhythm. Lasting almost 9 minutes, it doesn't come it at one second too long. Likewise with the nearly 12-minute album closer of "The Land Between Solar Systems," which has been floating around the internet for awhile as the opening track of their One World Radio set from last year. Again taking a long time to let things unfold, the group layer in different instruments and vocals, and mix organic instruments with electronic elements to near flawless effect.
As mentioned above, if you were more of a fan of the electronic elements of the group, you may at first find yourself the slightest bit underwhelmed with the new release, but like nearly everything the group does, the whole album goes down with nary a hitch. The long-time collaborative efforts have definitely paid off, and although there are some slight changes in sound with the release, the group still create music that sounds just about as unforced and natural as possible. Just as I was wondering whether the genre that they inhabited was starting to get a little stale, Múm has come back with another fine release (although I have to admit that in the back of my mind I wonder what they could with other styles of music). Warm and inviting, Finally We Are No One is like the aural punchline to the old Viking joke, "Greenland is Ice, and Iceland is Green." Mmm.