Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #93 Mum
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
Mum is basically strange and skewed childhood wonder in a bottle. In fact, the opening of their first proper full-length (Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK) seems to declare their philosophy outright: it's called "I'm 9 Today," and it forefronts tinkling bells, jittery playground laughter, toy pianos, and a whole host of other sounds designed to evoke, you know, nine-hood. It turned into their hallmark sound: strange, convoluted and glitchy electronic tracks, which play like cutscenes through the eyes of a child who knows no other state but the state of innocence.
That isn't to say that Mum deserves any of the following labels: 1) poppy, 2) substanceless, 3) simple, 4) naive. Ah yes, their discography is riddled with moments of darkness and melancholy. It's just that these moments are presented through the scope of youthful optimism - perhaps a simple consciousness teetering on the fringe of maturity. For instance, "Asleep on a Train" pulses like the vague concept of an outlaw rattling around in a toddler's brain - and the concept is drowned to a hum (but still present) behind the immediate (self-involved) longing for a nap or a cup of hot chocolate for dessert. It's all backwards, and to great effect: the sweet simplicity's up front, but a pressing eeriness lurks somewhere right behind it. In fact, maybe that's the only way to summarize this music collective: everything they put out leans on a sorted of sleighted complexity, a situation or mood cast in a sideways light, always warm and inviting, and always accompanied with a heartbreaking wink of the eye.
They have been fiercely consistent over the years, using toy instruments, found sounds, field recordings, drum machines and traditional instruments to create a catalog that is equal parts balanced, prolific and varied. It is this delicate and unexpected treatment of electronic music that lands Mum the #93 spot on this list.