Published Jan 01, 2006There is definitely something in Iceland's drinking water. The music of every Icelandic musical act that has made a name for itself has a certain essence that oscillates between hope and doom. Björk's "Hyper-Ballad" and "Joga," both ring with sadness, but simultaneously present a beauty and an optimistic message. The same can be said for most of Gus Gus' first album Polydistortion, or pretty much all of Sigur Rós's Agaetis Byrjun, a record that made Brad Pitt cry and Tommy Lee want to get it on. And on Finally We Are No One, the second album by Icelanders Múm, this same confusion can be felt. Full of hushed vocals, warm melodies and gently distorted beats, the album is shy and lullaby-ish, and can be perceived at once as something quite depressing and something quite uplifting.
"There are some very vague themes to the record," admits Múm's knob twiddler, Örvar Póreyjarson Smárason. (Twin sisters Kristín Anna and Goya Valtsydóttir and Gunnar Örn Tynes make up the other three quarters of the group.) Smárason feels that there are two central ideas present throughout the album. "Of course, the most obvious themes are fear and hope. To me, the strongest thing in music is the sound of fear and hope."
Finally We Are No One achieves Smárason's vision. The album's lonely and dispirited title was something the group felt would definitely help get their message across. Finding meaning in this sad phrase is next to impossible. Smárason points out that the intriguing expression was actually chosen by a young, innocent child. "One of the reasons why we chose [Finally We Are No One] was because I don't think we fully understood it ourselves. It has something that makes you think about it. When I was working in a children's school, there was a little kid that said that to me. I didn't get what he was saying at the time, but I started saying it a lot. So, when we started making the album, it sounded like a positive title for it. Of course, you can't quite put your finger on it, but since we've made the album, we've talked a lot about what it might mean." It's hard for anyone to put a finger on that title, but Múm's music is the sound of something exciting happening, whether it be a new day rising or the end of the world.