Sound — 8
If you miss the dreamy blend of alternative rock that used to permeate much of the college radio, you won't necessarily need to make that pilgrimage to the used CD store for your fix. Mew is a throwback to the nineties' blend of airy rock, often called shoegazing, which was represented by such bands as early Lush, Cocteau Twins, and My Bloody Valentine. Hearing Mew's latest record And The Glass Handed Kites actually is a refreshing blast from the past, but it may not hit a chord with listeners needing a bit more edge in their playlist. The style is not for everyone, and you'll either appreciate this album immediately or forget about it quickly. The high, ethereal vocals of Jonas Bjerre could grate on fans of more testosterone-driven rock, but it's actually nice to hear an alternative to the screamo formula heard in rock today. Guitarist Bo Madsen, former bassist Johan Wohlert, and drummer Silas Utke Graae Jrgensen are an incredible musicians, creating an atmospheric sound that should be appreciated for the ever-changing arrangements. Each song is constructed with a thick wall of sound, incorporating synth-like effects and well-crafted guitar tones. Even if Mew's style is not what you usually listen to, the band does an excellent job of taking each songs in a different directions. The track Why Are You Looking Grave starts out a bit blandly, but when it makes a sudden time change midway through the song, it takes on a different life. In most of the tunes on And The Glass Handed Kites, Mew do succeed in creating intriguing guitar lines that go beyond the average chords. Because Mew's sound is very distinct, it is both a blessing and a curse. It's melodically soothing, but often times too much so. For listeners who enjoy the unique vocals of Bjerre and the flowing sounds accompanying him, then Mew's new CD will be a pleasing addition. The problem is that even on their faster tempo songs, the band's songs never have much edge to them. An example of this is A Dark Design, in which the vocals flow so well with the music that it almost feels like an instrumental at times. Not a bad thing, but it might some listeners might be in need of a more grabbing vocalist.
Lyrics — 5
It could be a language issue, but the lyrics on And The Glass Handed Kites just don't make a bit of sense sometimes. Much of the time, the words are downright odd. In Apocalypso Bjerre sings, Black waves come; And so fear me, December; Sinking in Nolan time; I've lost all my pure feelings; The psychiatrist posing as psychologist. It's very possible that there is a deep, personal meaning behind the lyrics, but to the average listener, you might just be scratching your head the whole time. When sung, the delivery of the lyrics flows well. So much so that you might even find yourself not really paying attention to the lyrics. The music is fascinating in it's own right, and thankfully, that spares us from trying to make sense out of a song like Chinaberry Tree. In the song Bjerre exclaims, In parallel sea what would I be? My first love said to me: Tears out for the world to see; I would not be; I did not see the chinaberry tree. Rather than figure out what this chinaberry tree has to do with his first love, it's better to just awe at Bjerre's intriguing vocal style.
Overall Impression — 7
Mew is a fascinating band, there is no doubt about it. Guitarist Madsen and bassist Wohlert contribute some of the best aspects of the CD, when seemingly plain chords suddenly explode with unexpected layers. Probably the most unique aspect of Mew is Bjerre's soaring vocals, which often sound eerily like Yes' Jon Anderson. And The Glass Handed Kites almost feels like a progressive concept album at times, with it's intermittent instrumental moments and epic-like sounds. For listeners who want a song with a meaty sound, full of distortion, and a passionate vocalist whose lyrics are easily comprehendible, Mew would not be the band for you. It really does come down to taste in this case. The CD will not appeal to everyone, but even so, the band has left it's mark as creatively unique musicians not afraid to think outside the box.