Based around the orchestral arrangements of Mark Horwood and the vocal acrobatics of Raissa Khan-Panni, The Mummers emerged as one of the most exciting bands of the last decade with their unique brand of technicolour pop. Tragedy hit home, though, with Horwood taking his own life in 2009 as they reached a popular and critical peak. Without such a key member, it must have been questionable whether the group could carry on.
Pleasingly, the remaining band members (and many new ones) have dusted themselves down and prepared for the next phase of The Mummers journey. ‘Mink Hollow Road’ contains a mere six tracks but the future looks brighter than ever on this evidence.
It certainly helps if you can call on The Slovak National Symphony Orchestra to assist as The Mummers do on the opening track ‘Call Me A Rainbow’. Yet the Brighton-based outift have earned the right to this experience and the sheer hopefulness of the song should melt the hardest of hearts even if, at the back of your mind, it feels like listening to a Hollywood musical. The cutesiness is taken a step further for ‘Fade Away’; perhaps the best girlie pop song to be heard for some time but it’s actually a cover of a Todd Rundgren track. To contrast, ‘Driving Home’ takes one on an aurally sumptuous journey but its lyrics of “bruises that no one ever sees” and Khan Panni’s aching chorus reveals rare signs of a darker underbelly.
Horwood is credited with the arrangements for the final half of the record. When Khan-Panni sings “I begin to see in sepia” on ‘Cherry Heart’, the nostalgic sentiment is a shared experience. ‘Your Voice’ wavers and meanders as if filtered through several dreams but ‘Stuck In The Middle’ is refreshingly modern; Khan-Panni demonstrating her full range over the twinkling, fairy light atmospherics.
Certainly, Horwood’s legacy remains undiminished but others have taken up the baton and it’s pleasing to report that The Mummers sound just as good now as they always did. Moreover, in the true spirit of the band, ‘Mink Hollow Road’ conveys a celebration of life .
Lidwine, The Divine Comedy, Björk