Brilliantly melodic debut from unfairly maligned twee-poppers
There are people out there who hate Mumm-Ra. They hate their awful student union moniker (and we’d have to agree that naming yourself after a crappy-’80s-bog-roll-clad-cartoon-zombie-baddie hardly screams “adore us” in the same way that, say, Joy Division, Manic Street Preachers, or The Libertines do). They hate that their singer calls himself ‘Noo’ (and by the same measure, it’s hardly a name to inspire the same kind of respect as the likes of Elvis, Kurt or Liam), and they downright detest that the Bexhill-On-Sea band have a toy duck mascot they regularly introduce from the stage as ‘Matthew’ (Oh for fuck’s sake, lads, what is this? Children In fucking Need?). For a band who state their intentions so meekly, Mumm-Ra don’t half polarize opinion.
You can find these people at the bar, at your local toilet venue, record-store counter, or grotty rehearsal room. Indeed, many of them are in bands themselves, while some write fanzines, webzines or blogs. All of them care about pop music more than is healthy (which is how it should be), and all decry the band for not saying or meaning anything, for being as limp as a drowned lettuce. They’re people much like Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity or the types who still write to NME moaning that we don’t write about The Fall enough. Indeed, quite often, NME is a sort of collective spin on this most peculiarly righteous breed of person itself, and, while they’re a breed of folk you’d rarely want to get stuck in a lift with, they’re exactly the sort of people whose fierce opinions elevate the status of pop music beyond being merely – snort – entertainment.
Yet, what these people often fail to see – so blinkered can their view be – is that, from Beyoncé to Slayer, Sinatra to Busted, the moment a band writes an amazingly hooky pop song is the precise moment all other external polemic ceases to matter. Thankfully, Mumm-Ra themselves have stuffed their debut full of amazingly hooky pop songs, and to chastise them for their twee, soppy, spin on indie pop is like judging a pussy cat on the same criteria as you would a sabre-tooth tiger. When faced with the joyous-yet-yearning gallop of ‘Out Of The Question’, or the Blur-infused smirk of the sweetly sombre title track, critiquing the validity of this band’s existence on anything other than the actual tunes is as futile as invading Russia with a water pistol.
See, where ‘These Things Move In Threes’ limps in on the cool, sex, sass and style front, it positively outdoes itself in terms of actual tuneage. Consider recent single, ‘She’s Got You High’ – a song so ridiculously scrumptious, it manages to get away with being less a song than one ocean-wide, cloud-high chorus, that repeats itself until the point you want to reach over to the record player and say, “For fuck’s sake,
I think if you don’t stop these japes right now, then my heart might just burst”. In ‘Starlight’, they’ve written a song so ridiculously naïve, it’s a startling reminder of how you, NME, everyone felt precisely a second before learning the world was a vicious maelstrom of shit.
It’s this sort of unabashed melodic brilliance that deserves your affection, so stop worrying about what they’re not and give in to them. ‘These Things Move In Threes’ is the most wide-eyed, giddy and yearning indie-pop album of the year. And it would have scored a nine if the band hadn’t picked such a wank name.