Release Date: Aug 25, 2009
Record label: Columbia/Evil Office
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
I've always wondered why prog rock was one of the few genres that got skipped over for a comeback. Is it just that it takes too much technical proficiency to play? Is it that latter-day prog metal bands like Dream Theater ruined it for everyone? Did the asteroid of punk actually kill off rock's dinosaurs? As someone who came up on old, (let's face it) unfashionable progressive rock, I do occasionally like to come across a new record that scratches those old itches, and Mew always seems to come through for me. The Danish trio (originally a quartet) doesn't do 17-minute epics, extended solos, lyrics about Chinese scripture, or crazy odd-metered jamming, though.
Mew's fifth full-length offering presents audiences with another meticulously crafted, highly melodic, and maddeningly esoteric collection of volatile Danish indie rock that replaces the dusky uncertainty of 2005's And the Glass Handed Kites with a sunnier disposition that owes more to Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips than it does the icy, audio cave paintings of Sigur Rós. From the opening notes of "New Terrain" (which if played backwards reveals an entirely new song called "Nervous") through the Yes-inspired closer, "Reprise," Mew have crafted their most alluring collection of songs to date. While a handful of tracks ("Beach," "Tricks of the Trade") do veer into more commercial territory, it's the epic scope of cuts like "Cartoons and Macramé Wounds," "Hawaii," "Silas the Magic Car," and "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy" -- the latter two complete with a children's choir -- that provides listeners with enough sustenance to survive through to the next album.
Always inventive, often beautiful and occasionally totally sublime, [a]Mew[/a] have always stood out from the pack, and this latest – with producer Rich Costey back on board – sees them raise the bar that extra inch higher. From the powerful opener [b]‘New Terrain’[/b] onwards, [b]‘No More Stories’[/b] makes you want to throw dangerous metaphors around like an online fanzine reviewer. [b]‘Hawaii’[/b], for example, will make you want to scream ‘widescreen’ from the top of an icy mountain, while the gorgeous [b]‘Cartoons And Macramé Wounds’[/b] is simultaneously ‘epic’, ‘lush’ and ‘woozy’.
Where to begin with a new Mew record? For over a decade they’ve turned out a heady concoction of rock music, flirting with shoegaze and progressive tendencies while maintaining an ethereal charm increasingly their own. Though their feet dangle in waters grandiloquent, they’re far from being swept away; if anything, 2005’s seamless And The Glass Handed Kites exemplified their ability to match pomposity with a surprising level of elegance. Laced with cloud-scraping choruses and delivered with brio uncommon, the dogged self-belief at its core rendered any charges of ostentation beside the point.
Danish alt-rockers return with dark, spacious opus grounded by danceable beats.According to the unellipted 23-word title of Mew’s fourth studio album, stories are no longer told because “they washed away.” This explanation proves true, as blissful waves of synth atmospherics—compounded by Jonas Bjerre’s ethereal vocals—render the album’s awkward lyrics largely unintelligible. “New Terrain” unfolds in endless layers with Bjerre’s soprano, creating a haunting loop of echoes over late-blooming arena-rock guitar—it’s the perfect opener to yet another album of songs that rarely end where they begin. But where the band’s U.S.
You may remember Mew from their 2006 release, And the Glass Handed Kites, which featured a) an intelligent collection of poppy prog rock and b) one of the worst album covers ever. Ever. Really, see for yourself. Fortunately, for me and this review, the press copy of Mew’s latest—which, in an odd twist, features one of the worst (and longest) album titles ever—did not come with album art.
No More Stories No More StoriesThe World Is GreyI'm TiredLet's Wash Away In an attempt to obliterate little Jimmy’s chances of winning his 6th grade poetry competition, Mew recited these words with the intention of describing what could be considered their most challenging effort yet. Giving Fiona Apple a run for her money, No More Stories…, and so on, could be instantly considered to be a joke: an incomprehensible babble to further attempt an explanation that after three years, yes, Mew are back. They’re preparing us for quite an experience, which frankly, could just denote a roundabout set of songs that connote some type of sentiment.
It’s a shame that Mew’s No More Stories… is coming out during summer’s last gasp, because the album’s 14 tracks sound just like winter. Songs float and die like your breath in sub-zero temperature. The synths sound alternately like melting icicles and beams of light shining between leafless trees covered in snow. A warning: After listening to it, you’re liable to come down with Seasonal Affective Disorder.