Cheek Mountain Thief: Cheek Mountain Thief - The Reykjavik Grapevine

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Cheek Mountain Thief: Cheek Mountain Thief

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Published October 1, 2012

Mike Lindsay—also the frontman of UK folktronica band Tunng—has built up a mythology for this album in which he falls in love with an Icelander, drawing him to Húsavík and Reykjavík, where he writes and records an album with a cast of small town characters and a who’s-who of Icelandic krútt. That’s precisely how it sounds—it has elements of the “Icelandic sound,” while retaining Lindsay’s smooth British accent and the idiosyncrasies of style that made you love or hate Tunng.
The album cover’s depiction of a headdress-donned child painting a mountain gives a first impression that this album operates in a whimsical wonderland located somewhere between naiveté and insensitivity. That this image is then juxtaposed against the word “thief” I can only hope is purely incidental. Native American cultural appropriation and racial stereotyping has become a trend with “now-generation alternative music+fashion culture” (or what is popularly referred to as “hipsters”), and is as unfortunate as it is racist.
At first I feared this would be totally toothless MOR indie-folk, but it has its interesting moments. Its whimsical, naive portrait of Iceland however gets a bit queasy and at times verges on disingenuous (though if he does spend the winter building a mountaintop house I’ll swallow my words). Lindsay is still a tourist. I look forward to hearing how his impressions of Iceland mature on the next album. In the meantime, don’t be surprised if one of these tracks turns up on the soundtrack to the next Inspired By Iceland promotional video.

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