Mew will officially receive the award for the most long-winded title of 2009 later this year (so long I refuse to include it here), but the album deserves more attention for the musical ground it walks rather than the ridiculousness of the title alone.
While they might be labeled as off a prog sort of grouping, let’s focus more on the fact that they tend to present themselves more as a deconstructionist band. “New Terrain,” the album’s opening track, has various segments recorded backwards, which lends itself to the mounting tension in the song. You can feel the song pushing forward as the album pushes ahead. Following this up is the disjointed guitar work of “Introducing Palace Players,” which uses a semi-staccato guitar line with odd musical accompaniment to construct the entire song.
The unique voice of singer Bjerre is something that recalls that far-off echo meets harmony voice, sort of like Ben Gibbard. While early on in the album, the vocals don’t necessarily mix perfectly with the musical approach of the group, you find that listening carefully will bring the world of the instrumentals and the vocals together. By the time that you reach the mellow songs such as “Silas the Magic Car” or “Cartoons and Macreme Wounds” you can see that everything has eventually become glued together.
While the lyrics seem to paint a bleak story, based on the title of the album alone, the music doesn’t necessarily comply with the overall emotional aesthetic No More Stories are Told… would leave one to believe. “Hawaii” is an energetic number that recalls a multitude of bands that have hit the scene lately such as Efterklang. Steady percussion and serpentine guitar collide with gang vocals before Bjerre comes in alone. It’s a perfect Hawaiin themed song, aside from the abstract approach to songwriting that the band exudes. Wait for it to blast off near the end of the song, and you’ll completely understand the sentiment behind these words.
Still, you can’t ignore the lyrics throughout the record, painting a solemn outlook on the world as a whole. ”Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy” comes off as a joyous number, but as Bjerre sings “feels like someone put a hex on you” he seems to be agreeing that everyone eventually comes up against forces that work against us. It’s not as if it will all end here though, as his agreement that life is not easy is just an affirmation that despite hardships, there is light on the other side. Such goes the story of the record, as every dark moment meets a brighter future. Although the album suggest otherwise, a great story is being told throughout, and everyone will find the musical accompaniment equally as gratifying on the latest Mew effort.
Download: Mew – New Terrain [MP3]