Múm vocalist Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir has been thrown to the wolves since the release of the band’s practically unlistenable Summer Make Good, leaving founding members Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason (this review would have already been written by now if not for those damn Icelandic names!) with a blank canvas on which to heap layers of intricate percussion, woodwinds, and nearly incomprehensible vocals. They sound more and more like a toy gypsy band on their latest effort, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, with Samuli Kosminen’s tabla-style percussion giving the effect of tiny galloping horse hooves on the opening track, “Blessed Brambles,” and embodying tap-dancing molecules on the spacey “Dancing Behind My Eyelids.” The album provides lessons on pet care (lead single “They Made Frogs Smoke ‘Til They Exploded”) and the virtues of moderation as taught on the French Riviera (“A Little Bit, Sometimes”), but this time around the music’s environ-setting ambiance takes precedence over lyrical content. As always, Múm is unafraid of melodically complex compositions and crowded spaces, but the cluttered collages of tracks like “These Eyes Are Berries” can sometimes be exhausting to navigate and several zygotes of songs amount to little more than interludes. For all the cast changes and time that has passed by, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy—though a significant step up from their last album—doesn’t break much new ground.
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