Darrell Ford
staff writer
January 26, 2006
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Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music? Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music?
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Rock Music Reviews
Mugison
Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music?

[The clichť thing, when confronted by a series of similarly powerful talents from the same island is to say "there must be something in the water." I will try to spare you that.]

Mugison, an export of Iceland, joins such renowned artists as Bjork and Sigur Ros on the global stage. Mugison outshined both for a number of Iceland's music awards, including Best Pop Album. Of course, having a pedigree such as that makes Mugimama, Is This Monkey Music? subject to additional scrutiny upon its domestic release via Ipecac.

The disk seems scattered, at first listen. ďI Want YouĒ sounds like Bright Eyes's "Lover I Donít Have to Love," but then ďThe Chicken SongĒ switches it up with the addition of a female vocalist [Mugisonís girlfriend, for those keeping score at home]. She gives the track a smoother and sexier bent, reminiscent of Cibo Matto, while Mugisonís version of seductive lyrics include:

"Iím not a vegetarian
But I like sitting in the grass
Donít like them thongs
But I love tits and ass"

On "Murr Murr," perhaps the album's most conventional pop track [and the one that bested Bjork for one of Mugisonís awards], Mugisonís singing is as catchy as the accompanying guitar. His statement that "I try to do it quietly/not a whisper/more like a shock" aptly describes the progression of the entire record. Other standouts, like the folky "I'd Ask" and the thumping glitch tinged "Sad as a Truck," are unexpected but never really seem out of place. "Sad as a Truck" contains more brash elements of synth than "The Chicken Song," but those similarities and overlapping elements allow Mugimama the scant cohesion it possesses.

Mugimama is a startling album. Every time I thought I had his style pegged, I discovered, no, the next track sounds completely unlike everything else I thought he sounded like. I hadnít heard anything as varied and schizophrenic since reading Mugison's biography [aside from his career in music, Mugison has been a sailor, a clown, and a messenger boy]. There is only a modicum of charm in that discovery, but the strength of the individual tracks on the record carries Mugimama quite a ways on its own.

Release date: October 4, 2005
Label: Ipecac Recordings
Rating: 8.0 / 10

On the web: http://mugison.com/
[RMR]