Múm: Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK
Morr Music

Múm's debut Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today is OK was originally released in 2001 on the Icelandic label Thule but never received a full European and North American release—until now, that is, thanks to the kind folks at Morr Music. The group, at that time a four-piece of Gunnar Örn Tynes, Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason, and twin sisters Gyða and Kristin Anna Valtýsdóttir (Gyða left in late 2002 to study at the Academy of Arts in Iceland), thoroughly showcases its melodic gifts throughout the almost 70-minute collection. The songs' melodies are wholly captivating yet also startlingly simple, whether they're the melancholy kind that stream through the nine-minute “Smell Memory” or the joyous exuberant sort that appear in “I'm 9 Today.” The gentle, heartbreaking melodies of “There Is a Number of Small Things” and “The Ballad of the Broken String” are as rapturous today as they were five years ago. Glockenspiels dance and soulful trumpets cry in “Awake on a Train” while a sparkling melody sweetens the dark undertow of the propulsive “Asleep On a Train.”

Another distinguishing characteristic is the album's coupling of analogue sounds (melodica, accordion) with the whirrs and clicks of electronics. One presumes that the junkyard rhythms barreling through “Awake On a Train” originated from sampling too. Finally, in contrast to Finally We Are No One and Summer Make Good, the earlier album includes few vocals, the gorgeous dirge “The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records” with its sweet Julee Cruise-styled singing a rare but notable example. Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today is OK documents the sounds of individuals industriously experimenting and, in the process, producing marvelous work that seems completely unforced, music unlike anything heard before yet instantly familiar. How amazing that this tiny troupe emerged seemingly out of nowhere with music of such transformative heart and imagination.

October 2005