Benni Hemm Hemm Benni Hemm Hemm

Now that we’ve lost the late great Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, this Icelandic band is ready to step up with their own take on pastoral orch-pop sung in an exotic European language. Benni Hemm Hemm is the name of both the band and the bandleader, who wrote this material on an Italian vacation. Some of the passion of that country’s indigenous music is fused with the more elegant restraint that other Icelandic exports are known for, with lovely layered vocal harmonies backed up by jangly guitars, glockenspiels and stately brass sections that rarely coalesce into expected patterns — even with the recent proliferation of traditional European music in indie rock. Benni Hemm Hemm can play it straight, too — perhaps not coincidentally on two songs sung in English: the wispy country song "I Can Love You in a Wheelchair, Baby,” and the downright dorky "Ku-Ui-Po,” a horn-y pop song with swelling slide guitar about his Hawaiian sweetheart. Fans of our very own Hylozoists should take note — in fact, so should Mr. Hemm Hemm, if he’s looking for a North American back-up band. (Morr)