People from Iceland must have a fantastic sense of humor about communication breakdowns, because when I asked Múm leader Gunnar Örn Tynes if I was pronouncing his name correctly, he laughed, said I wasn't, and, after many attempts to cross our language barrier, told me I should just call him "Gooney." As in the bird, not the weirdo. The band's output of albums all had comical names such as Please Smile My Nosebleed, Yesterday Was Dramatic--Today Is OK, Finally We Are No One, and the latest, Summer Make Good, which is translated from a poem by Icelandic poet Zigfus Badason.
In the beginning, Múm were big with the electronic crowd, yet still seemed a bit out of place in 1999 when I saw them play in a sweltering rave-like tent in Bremerton, WA. Now they've progressed to an entirely different sound, no longer the kind of stuff you would dance to, but you could definitely be compelled to swoon with all the beautifully cinematic spoken and instrumental imagery. Of course, Gooney likens the change in an intelligently funny way. "The past five or six years have been like school," he says, "and the first classroom was that tent." He laughs when he explains that the first album, Yesterday Was Dramatic--Today Is OK, "was like a beautiful accident, there was no structure and things came from a mysterious place we didn't know about." Now, he says, though he might confuse Múm's fans, "the band's finally got the hang of it."
With an album as intricate and arranged as Summer Make Good, you'd think a kind of lyrical theme might follow. Gooney disagrees, saying, "The music means one thing to me and the words mean something else, and it's all very unclear. Music's main ability is to capture the things that you can put into words and load the songs with feelings. It's not like one song is about my love life or another is about a motorcycle crash." That, says Gooney, would be "silly."