Boards of Canada's 1998 ambient-pop masterpiece Music Has the Right to Children redefined stylistic parameters for a cadre of music listeners with dogmatic tastes. Released in the U.S. on a famously grumpy indie-rock label (Matador) and featuring a melodic, drifting, not particular dancey take on techno, Music brokered a common ground both for rock kids and the dance faction that even Stereolab had trouble creating. In its wake, a wind of inspiration blew through Northern European electronica: Indie kids started making tracks filled with simple romantic melodicism, mixing analog and digital sounds, and layering sizzle-fry laptop beats atop.
Now Mùm, a quartet of Icelandic multi-instrumentalists, has gone even further at reeling in pastoral electronica's abstract tendencies in the name of pop. Much of Finally We Are One, the group's second full-length (last year's equally great Yesterday Was Dramatic is making a simultaneous domestic debut as well), plays like a twee-techno take on the Belle & Sebastian songbook: synthetically textured melancholia goofing with wide-screen bubblegum patches. Twin sisters Kristína Anna and Gyõa Valtysdóttir vocalize like slightly less operatic Björkettes, while melodicas and glockenspiels mix with drum machines and crackling gray washes to create a new version of 21st-century global pop.