Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, And the Glass Handed Kites, Electric Feel, Frengers, Mew, No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away, Releases of the Week
How do you follow up an album that was more or less one 53-minute continuous recording AND received near unanimous critical acclaim? If you’re Danish indie-rock band Mew, you make things a bit simpler.
The album in question is the band’s 2005 release And the Glass Handed Kites, an ambitious, beautiful and, at times, haunting magnum opus. Its songs were diverse, and flowed so seamlessly together that you’d swear all fourteen were recorded on the same take. An admirable achievement, to be sure, but not always easy to digest.
Four years later, Mew returns with, er-hem…No More Stories Are Told Today, I’m Sorry They Washed Away. No More Stories, The World Is Grey, I’m Tired, Let’s Wash Away. Yes, that’s the full title.
But despite any impressions such a title may give you, No More Stories is a lot simpler, and ultimately a lot more beautiful, than its predecessor. It’s more akin to Mew’s 2003 album, Frengers — memorable more as a collection of excellent songs (even interludes!) rather than an achievement as a whole.
After a swirling, atmospheric introduction to No More Stories, we get the first of the album’s many “song of the year” candidates: “Introducing Palace Players,” a funky, grooving piece notable for its extended opening jam. Mew are simply having fun doing what they do, and it becomes impossible for the audience not to enjoy the moment as well. Put money on the song becoming the “Electric Feel” of 2009, and it’s sure to pay dividends.
From here, the usual suspects of Mew’s sound — awe-inspiring soundscapes, reverb and echo effects and tasteful harmonies — come through in full force. But this time around, free of the constraints of a continuous suite of music, the band is afforded new ways to manifest them, and Mew take full advantage.
On the album’s second peak, “Hawaii,” the band gradually builds up a calm, island-inspired theme into a stunningly cathartic climax of progressive-rock heaven. It’s triumphant and beautiful, and you can’t help but marvel at the song structure and musicianship that went into it.
Simply put, if you’re familiar with Mew, get ready for more brilliance than they’ve ever given us before. But if you haven’t yet discovered Danish indie-prog — and how much of the world can say it has? — consider No More Stories your kick-start.
— Dan Kaplan