Review Summary: Mugimama should be just a little bit less creepy.
Instead of spouting my initial reaction to Mugison – that he, out of all sweeping generalisations to make, has the biggest personality split witnessed in music – it makes more sense to say this: Mugison has the most annoying personality split around. This is by no means meant in the way a musician can diversify their style and defy genre, however I find myself simultaneously admiring and despising what the Icelandic could-be sensation thinks on anything (which, as a choice of topic, is usually himself). She thinks with her finger/on her nose/as to point a direction
he desperately cries on “2 Birds”, a track not wide of Damien Rice’s mark, and everything is typically beautiful. That’s too bad, because for every outpour of sadness, there’s the lame cries of Watch yourself!
in “Chicken Song” to bring everything back to the sleaze it’s better to be without. And by the end of Mugimama
, which slice of Iceland are you really going to take away?
Such a vast split is fast to bring out the good, however. While Mugison’s prowess instrumentally is the guitar (proved early in “2 Birds” and “I Want You”), his strumming basically becomes the backdrop for everything else. The sweet chords that fill an absence in “2 Birds” leave two gentle voices to whisper atop but allow sentimentality to be poured into Mugison’s song writing. With the return of basic chord patterns, however, this conception of sorrow doesn’t show again, as the guitar tapping quirks in “Murr Murr” marvellously reveal. This is what makes Mugimama
an easy album to throw on; it conveys a wide amount of moods without really delivering on its weird, decorated promise.
, Mugison sounds comfortable to keep his music at an arm’s reach. When ambition hits him, it comes reluctantly and at the wrong time – “Swing Ding” is simply one of the worst interludes possible to imagine, its deep rumbling voice unable to make any interplay with the tender tunes that surround it. “Afi Minn” just shows a sudden lack of commitment to his own challenging of his musical norm, a harmonica having to wait five minutes for the irritating noises of water and footsteps. Mugison sounds in these nine minutes of nothingness to be holding back - not so much from holding back from truly defining himself as master of experimentation (considering priorities, Mugison is a pop musician), but instead cowering the quaintness of his real
songs. “Hold On to Happiness” is the albums actual finisher, and yet the piano ballad is concealed behind a rumbling haze of silence, and is denied its place as the rightful closer of Mugimama
. Perhaps he should learn to stay put.
Mugison is cursed with being compared to the only two neighbours any outsider is willing to assume an Icelander has (guess who), and inevitability is plagued with being an ‘experimental’ singer-songwriter a la Björk. It is quite obvious that there is nothing for Mugison to fulfil in this respect, and even if he wants to, the unclear ‘what-if’ moments of Mugimama
bring down an album - so full to the brim of ploy and thought - with flaws that cannot resonate true with a listener. The balance of content is so nearly there, but is abruptly tarnished by the most obscenely pointless musical edges in the most important moments, gritting down Mugimama
’s bizarre self-portrait.
Well, just count yourself lucky no one can sneak in a Sigur Ros reference.