‘if you’re not into posting to Instagram constantly, you’re probably at the wrong show’ – Dara Higgins on Múm‘s recent gig at The Button Factory Perhaps if Iceland had managed to overcome their Croatian foes in qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, there’d have been a touch more vim in the step of Múm. Although I reckon there’s never anything more than what was on show here: a sort of animated somnambulism. The lads delicately pace and float around the stage, kneading out gentle chords from the electric piano like artisan bread, and tiny melodies are dotted about like sesame seeds. Sure, it’s nice, but it’s empty calories.
They seem like nice people, to be fair to them and have a charming line in banter, including a darling story about the ferry. Being, as they are, seafaring folk, Múm never soar. They apologetically tiptoe around, so quiet at times you can hear the gentle tap of the cello bow being placed on the stage.
They float, ghostly dancing and coy dress-fondling, like they were given the word “ethereal” in acting class and asked to perform it. The vocals are hushed, whispered, barely there at times. Like the melodies themselves, they’re understated, somewhat dull. As the front four meander around their instruments, they never seem to be master of any particular mode. Meaning that the playing serves as some kind of backdrop for the performance, rather than the other way around. I couldn’t hum one of these tunes afterwards, and if I could, I probably wouldn’t.
While there’s something beautiful in the performance, not least the way they all look, and the drumming was snappy and precise, the one point of virtuosity here, the gig left me, dare I say it, cold. Beyond some delicate touches, ringing bells and some nice cello work, there was nothing to get my teeth into. I suspect, were I to bite in, the air would escape and the whole thing would collapse, its shimmering form lacking scaffolding or something substantial to hang all this beauty upon. It’s all terribly nice, and everyone’s having a good time, but ultimately if you’re not into posting to Instagram constantly, you’re probably at the wrong show.
Perhaps in deference to the cold and ice that informs the appellation of Mum’s homeland, every man at tonight’s gig is sporting a beard. That’s nice, isn’t it?