The titles of múm’s albums tell a remarkably self-deprecating tale. There’s Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know from 2009. Yesterday Was Dramatic—Today Is OK was the group’s 2000 debut full-length. And, of course, 2002’s sophomore effort Finally We Are No One.
Yet such self-deprecation is just one facet of this infinitely intriguing Icelandic combo. Its sound—which quietly terraforms pop and electronic genre standards into its own brand of beautifully rendered, lo-fi hymnals—has been gradually developing over the years, constantly changing and evolving while still staying fundamentally múm, regardless of the years the band has logged. Hence, its new compilation, titled, appropriately, Early Birds: A Compilation of Early Recordingds, Rare Music, and Forgotten Songs from 1998-2000 or Thereabouts, gives fans and casual observers a look back at the group’s sketches, inspirations, and early triumphs, going from ambient soundscapes to bedroom dance parties at the drop of a hat.
To celebrate the occasion, founding member Örvar Smárason sat down to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing to us the neorealist cinema classic that almost made him cry, which band member wears Jabba the Hut underwear, and why he’s proud of “not having gone completely insane yet” . . .