Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #83 Mum - Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#83 Mum - Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK
When we named Mum #93 out of our top 100 bands of the decade, we reflected on their curious take on electronic music - how listening to their discography feels like watching old home movies cut through with glitches, tape hiss and nearly imperceptible melting around the edges of the screen. Though the mode is rough, the message still points to a simpler, more youthful time. Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today is OK is the VHS tape around which we most frequently gather, the one that portrays everything just so. It is slated to be their only appearance on our top 100 albums list, but Finally We Are No One and Summer Make Good were crushingly close candidates. Ultimately, Yesterday Was Dramatic won out because it was darker and stranger than its sisters - because it portrays, more acutely, the tension that swells behind (and eventually swarms) an innocent thing.
I'm especially enamored with the way every track seems to hold hands, in rather sinister ways, with its immediate neighbors. There's an innate coupling which kicks off at the transition from "I'm 9 Today" into "Smell Memory." The former is a wondrous, blurry-eyed birthday, an idealized recollection of the past. But the sudden squelches and frank, tangled-up strings of "Smell Memory" sweep in and trample the daydream, kicking off one of the best long-form electronic songs I've ever heard. Smell Memory cuts to an upbeat revelation halfway through, as if it wishes to make reparations for kicking a nine-year-old to the dirt on his birthday - high, bubbly sines mean that all is well. It's this sort of clutch-and-release that permeates the album - though, strangely, the tension builds in the innocent bits, as if we know what's young will never last and we're waiting for the music to come to the same realization. This happens again between "Asleep on a Train" - a dreamy, odd, roaming ride - and "Awake on a Train," where the opening drums recall the too-loud rattling of tracks, where the thin synthesizer points an arrow to a place you don't want to go, and all of it recalls the strange sensation of being conscious and helpless on a predetermined course of travel. This duality is all over, and it's the stark ups and downs that inject this record with a satisfying variety - and, ultimately, a more mature allure than anything else Mum put out. Yesterday Was Dramatic was the effort where everything came together, and for that reason it lands on the list as one of the top 100 albums of this decade.