Sound: Mew are at present, a three-piece band from Denmark comprising of drummer Silas Utke Graae Jrgensen, guitarist Bo Madsen, and vocalist Jonas Bjerre. Their sound is characterised by strong shoegaze, dreampop, and progressive influences, including jangly guitar lines, atmospheric keys, huge walls of sound, subtly complex instrumentation, and Jonas' instantly recognisable choir-boy vocals. No More Stories... is the bands third major offering, and this time around, they promised to deliver a more "up-beat" album in comparison to the dark and heavy And the Glass Handed Kites'.
A quick spin of the first singleIntroducing Palace Prayers'gives but a small taste of the album. Starting off with an odd-meter funky baritone guitar, synths segue in, and finally Jonas' multi-layered, distinctive high-pitched vocals come in. The song, like many others on the album is catchy, almost danceable. Beach' starts off with a smooth bass guitar line over some shimmering chords, and may be their most straightforward song yet. Silas the Magic Car' is a subdued, gentle song of acoustic guitars, pianos, and heavily layered vocals encompassing both low and high registers. For full-on Mew bombast, Cartoons and Macrame Wounds' and Sometimes Life Isn't Easy' deliver strongly, with a range of instrumentation and soaring vocals.
Mew are clearly excellent musicians, and they don't have to put in displays of technical proficiency to prove it. More importantly, they can arrange a complex range of instruments and voices, and come up with songs that are catchy, melodic, deeply layered, and at times, simply epic. // 10
Lyrics: Mew's lyrics are known to be rather abstract, but it seems there's much less of the nonsensical in comparison to say, Apocalypso' from their previous work. The lyrics still remain largely open to interpretation, but there's a definite poignant, melancholy air to them, even during their more upbeat moments. Lines such as I was on my way, I swear/ But I took a wrong turn there, (from Beach') and Put your hand in mine/ We'll go ice-skating on the thinnest ice we can find (Cartoons and Macrame Wounds') sound simple, and they are, but their delivery combined with the instrumentation creates the final effect. Personally, lyrical pseudo-intellectualism never resonated with me as a listener, but listen to (as opposed to read) the lyrics in the context they are delivered in, and you'll find they fit in perfectly.
Speaking of delivery, it cannot be stated enough the abilities of Jonas. His voice is angelic and boy-like in the high register (fitting well with the childlike lyrics), which is his usual place, but he is also capable of lower, subtler moments. The vocals are quite heavily layered, often in octaves apart, and the end result is beautiful. // 8
Overall Impression: Though I would like to review this in an objective, stand-alone way, inevitably the question arises how it compares to their previous efforts, considering their very positive receptions. To keep it brief, I would say that Mew has really become a more cohesive band; the song arrangements have improved and they're not afraid to experiment. 'No More Stories' is not the second rendition of 'Frengers' or 'The Glass-Handed Kites'. Rather, it sounds like a band that have since their formation in the early 90's continued to progress and form their distinctive identity as a band. It s doubtless that an album that isn't a replication of previous efforts will have its detractors, and personal preferences will always prevail. Still, I have a feeling that the album will attract far more new fans than Mew will lose. Missing out on listening to this experience would be a shame indeed. // 9