Mew: No More Stories...

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Written By:

Aidan Williamson

04th August 2009
At 16:44 GMT

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Or to give it its full title:

     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

That's half of the thousand-word count out of the way then. We'll begin today by considering the nature of 'secret' tracks. Back in the day of vinyl, you could have the 'hidden groove', a special place to put the needle where extra music would be revealed.

With the advent of CD though, there were but two options open. Option 1 - the option most opted - involves the rather mundane technique of placing a long passage of silence after the final listed track and then placing another song following it. The more difficult method has you rewinding the first track to the pre-gap wherein another musical composition is contained (utilised by The Music and Ash).

Mew have blown both these methods out of the water. For within their first track - "New Terrain" - is buried another song entitled "Nervous", all you have to do is play it backwards. The mood has changed, the lyrics are different (legible) and the entire composition takes on a completely different feel. If you're willing to put the effort in, you are richly rewarded.

Such a summation encapsulates Danish indie-rock band Mew quite accurately. Their lyrics are either deliberately obscure, or wonderfully mistranslated, painting the world in a rich tapestry of dream-like imagery, animalistic analogies and surprising darkness. Where else do you get lines such as "The world is like you / Here comes the charm / Like a dog it's breathing".

As for their music... a brief tangent is needed here. While many consider Frengers to be the band's masterpiece, we're going to be controversial and disagree. We'd happily say that three, maybe four songs were little more than pleasant plods through shoegaze-inspired indie. Its reputation is due, mostly we believe, to the phenomenally incredible remaining tracks. This is moving past the issue that the album was technically a greatest hits compilation of the band's early work.

Both Mew and the Glass Handed Kites and now No More Stories... form a more cohesive album experience. Whereas Kites traversed dark, foreboding territories, Stories delights in joyful romps through glittering worlds of transcendence. All backed by Jonas Bjerre's unmistakably sumptuous vocals which are equal part Alice in Wonderland, to equal part Dinosaur Jr.

While this album does score higher for a sustained standard, it's a mite disappointing to note that the highs aren't as high as the band have done before. There are no moments likely to instigate spontaneous displays of extreme emotion (live performances of "She Came Home For Christmas" have been known to kick-off hug-fests between complete strangers). There is no straddling of epic post-rock song-structures either, just fifty-three minutes of charming, beguiling, ethereal, genre-busting hazy indie-rock.

For us, that is more than enough, the masterful intelligence of the aforementioned opening track, the off-kilter rhythms of "Introducing Palace Players", the soaring euphoria of the calypso-changeover during "Hawaii", the none-more-black booty-shaking beats of "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy" (a dark-universe spiritual anti-brother to Modest Mouse's "Float On"). Then there's the intricately designed structure of "Cartoons and Macramé Wounds", which crams four or five songs into one seven-minute masterpiece, an idea so well-executed that it exposes Green Day's attempts at the same concept as rank amateurishness. Eventually the million reasons as to why Mew are one of the greatest bands around today begin to get lost in their multitude.

So while Frengers could be [this] impressive, but also slump to around [this] good. No More Stories... keeps its needle to [this] much fun, without ever falling to [these] levels.

For some, that will count as a disappointment, for us, it's yet another sterling entry into the never-failing arsenal of Mew.

Rating:  9 / 10

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