I first mentioned this album in my write up for Weeping Rock, Rock, which discussed, among other things, the ethics of downloading music. In this write up I agonized over having to wait a few months for the release of Summer Make Good. Upon the release date, however, I did not rush to the store to scoop it up, for reasons that still remain unclear to me, in a way. Unfortunately, bad reviews plagued the release, both on hip, indie music news site, such as Pitchfork Media, but also on Icelandic music message boards, like the one on the Sigur Ros fansite, and even on the Múm fansite itself.
Maybe I was just too busy to go to the record store, or maybe the reviews truly did get to me, but either way, once early April came along I was idle. I didn’t arrive at the new album until the beginning of June, while out with a small touring band, trying to sell some of their records to local stores. It was then that I saw Summer Make Good for twelve dollars and ninty-five cents, and decided that now was the time. That night I lay in bed, listening to what I had waited too long to hear, and I regreted the wait dearly. Needless to say, those who talked down to Summer Make Good were simply wrong, or afraid of change.
Fear blew somewhere in the faraway now,
this fear that had gripped my breathing when I lay in bed
at night. Watching the storm window, I just could not put
down my telescope anymore and kept imagining my teeth
breaking. I was having violent dreams where me and the
other kids would commit horrible acts and then rn away in
guilt. I need to put down my telescope, so I walked down
to the sea My boots were full of fog. Lying on a rock I
stuck my head in the cold water. From under the waves
that kissed my shoulders, I could hear it’s faint bells
drifting closer. But would the summer make good for all
of our sins?
Thus, in prime, enigmatic fashion, begins Mum’s third full-length album, and follow up to the critically acclaimed Finally We Are No One, Summer Make Good. The introductory paragraph held within the excellent broken plaster-themed cover art speaks volumes of the album. While the short story in their previous albums have laid down the tracks for how things would sounds, none is more true than on Summer Make Good. While Finally We Are No One’s short story does have a melancholy tone to it, it retains a certain cute sense about it, being very airy, and light. To contrast the words within Summer Make Good at dark, and heavy, unlike anything that has come before.
The dark tone to the album has obviously had an affect on Múm’s audience, which apparently led to the renouncing nature that many of the early reviews took on. Furthermore, the stronger presence of Kristin’s voice, now that they can no longer rely on the double harmonies created while Gyða was around, can obviously make more people uncomfortable, with it’s high pitched, raspy appeal, rather than the previous sweet and easy sound when coupled with her sister. These two things are without a doubt what lead to the negative words spoken of Summer Make Good.
What Múm have done here is move on as a band. This, in my view, is the most important thing a group can do, because once you become stagnant as a musician things become dull, and not very interesting; if someone picked up Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK, and a copy of Summer Make Good, they would not believe that the same group made both albums. This is important! Múm were simply too ambitious to stick with a simple IDM sound, and thus Summer Make Good came into being.
The music on Summer Make Good, aside from the darker tone, and hightened utilization of Kristin’s voice, is without a doubt the most full, and minimalist of their efforts to date. There may be more sounds, which comes from the enlarged member size, with six now, instead of the earlier four on Finally We Are No One, along with a more complex degree of composition, but also a very minimal nature, which comes through somehow, unknown to me. While the clicky, computer created beats are still prominent on the album, the new drummer, Samuli, lays down some fantastic, clicky in their own right, beats that give a more organic sound to the music.
An individual song description list for Summer Make Good is not necessary; usually this is the height of my personal write-up please - describing each song in detail - but this time around it would be useless. Summer Make Good flows so well as an album that it is better to take it in as one lone entity, rather than twelve small parts. However, I will mention a few things that are worth noting on this album.
- Weeping Rock, Rock is still as good as the first time I heard it
- The call and response melody among the clarinet and accordion on Nightly Cares
- The Ghosts You Draw on My Back’s devastating bass drum
- The obvious, clicky-yet-real drums on Sing Me Out The Window
- The tremolo sound on The Island of the Children’s Children
- Male vocals on Oh, How The Boat Drifts, something Múm has not down until now
- Just how fucking sweet Small Deaths Are The Saddest sounds
- The composition of Will the Summer Make Good For All Our Sins?
There is no doubt in my mind that location, and environment deeply effect your musical output, and sometimes you even acquire the sounds of your location. Such was the case when Múm created Summer Make Good.
Like on Finally We Are No One, Summer Make Good was recorded primarily in a lighthouse, specifically the Gardskagi lighthouse in Iceland. The extreme location left them few luxuries, as they had to boat to the lighthouse, and climb up a mountain to get to their studio. More trouble arouse from their fantastical lighthouse, with a strong, south-western wind constantly whipping their microphones, and the terrible cold, which slowed down the analog tape speed they were recording with, made it nearly impossible to synch the tape music with the computer music later on.
Local Icelandic fishermen were the saving grace for the band while doing their recording at the Lighthouse. On one occasion the boat the band members were using for transportation to and from the main land faltered on them, and left them stranded, bobbing in the sea. Luckily, a group of fishermen came upon them and lifted them off their imperiled boat. Another time members of FatCat Records came to yuck it up with the group during a recording session, getting stranded for three days longer than they expected due to severe storms. Once again, fishermen passing by helped the kid return home, while apparently shooting seals with a shotgun and singing drunken songs.
- Hú Hviss - A Ship
- Weeping Rock, Rock
- Nightly Cares
- Ghosts You Draw on My Back
- Sing Me Out the Window
- Islands of the Childrens Children
- Oh, How the Boat Drifts
- Small Deaths Are the Saddest
- Will the Summer Make Good for All of Our Sins?
- Abandoned Ship Bells