Play It Again Sam
Review by Mike Bax
Mew has been crafting quality recordings of some of the finest musical atmospherics for twenty years now. What? Never heard of them? You likely aren’t alone in this regard. Even with numerous tours across our sizeable continent, Mew has managed to remain rather unknown in North America. Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark with five epic albums already under their belts, Mew is ready to launch album number six. Entitled +- (Plus Minus), the ten tracks that encompass the album more than deliver on the band’s previous outings.
In typical Mew fashion, the songs on +- range from ethereal minimalist material through to crashing moments of prog-heavy bombast. There is a reason Mew fans come from all walks of musical diversity. The band has toured with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Pixies, Muse, Kings of Leon and Kasabian. Mew’s body of work can easily hold a candle to any of these bands.
It’s been six years since the release of Mew’s last album, No More Stories – a wonderful but criminally overlooked release that saw them touring North America with both Nine Inch Nails and Pixies. Where that album seemed to alienate audiences, +- seems like a body of work designed to rein everyone back in. The showpiece song on the album (to me) is ‘ROW’, an eleven-minute epic piece of musical bravado that takes the listener through multiple moods and time steps until reaching its crescendo amidst a wash of Philip Glass sounding keyboards. The track could very well give the band’s signature piece ‘Comforting Sounds’ (from 2003’s Frengers) a run for its money.
Vocalist Jonas Bjerre shows absolutely no signs of faltering on his ultra-high pitched musical delivery. There are moments during Mew songs that will have you questioning how Bjerre is physically hitting the notes he’s achieving. What’s REALLY amazing is seeing him perform these songs live and hit the same notes on stage, without studio massaging. Bo Madsen (guitar), Johan Wohlert (returning after a few years hiatus on bass) and Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen (drums) offer up an hour of majestic songcraft on +-. The album truly could be one of the finest things the band has ever put their names on.
Lead single ‘Satellites’ is currently streaming online https://youtu.be/VawIB4N_gmM. The new album was created and recorded in Copenhagen, produced by Michael Beinhorn and mixed by none other than Rich Costey. Russell Lissack (Bloc Party) joined the band in the studio and appears on ‘My Complications’. New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra adds some lovely vocals over ‘The Night Believer’. Set for release on April 28th, 2015 with the promise of a North American tour later this year, +- is destined for success. I’m a long-time Mew fan, and I’m over the moon with how awesome this release is. Expect great things once the album is commercially released in a few weeks.