Some bands are more special than others. One of them, certainly a very special one for the whole Danish music scene, is Mew. The band came back with a new album lately and we’ve got the devoted Mew fan Ann to write a few words about “+ −“, released on 24. April 2015:
Six long years have passed since the release of 2009’s “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” and the enigmatic Danish band Mew have finally returned with their sixth full-length studio album which they have simply titled “+ −” (Plus Minus).
It is a world of stark contrasts, positives and negatives, of polar opposites: short songs + epic prog/post-rock anthems, optimism + pessimism, simplicity + complexity. Newly independent from their previous label, Sony, the band have re-coalesced into their original lineup after the return of bassist Johan Wohlert, and together with producer Michael Beinhorn (And the Glass Handed Kites) the four childhood friends have created what they aptly call their most versatile record yet.
Less a nebulous cloud of ideas, more focused and driven than the last “+ −” presents a sound that is more accessible to a wider audience. Gone are the frequently-changing time signatures and meandering twists and turns that defined previous albums. Instead, they have incorporated elements of R&B, afrobeat, post-rock, and classic 80s pop and packaged them in a wrapper that is easier to digest, but still unmistakably Mew. Never wanting to simply recreate what they’ve already done, they push hard in the opposite direction to birth something entirely different.
In the midst of a catchy sea of delectable indie pop, one can still find Mew’s signature lush, multi-layered, soaring synths behind funky, insistent guitars, driving bass, and astonishingly inventive beats. Jonas Bjerre’s ever-present angelic falsetto caresses each note with his inexplicable ability to break one’s heart and mend it again within the same measure. Lyrics are both unambiguous and filtered through layers of metaphor and vague symbolism.
Although the album contains four tracks all less than five minutes, one epic, sprawling prog rock track will keep fans enthralled for nearly eleven minutes, accounting for a fifth of the length of the entire album. Every listener will be able to find something that speaks to them immediately, and after many repetitions, the songs that originally seemed inscrutable will become comfortable and familiar. Mew are masters at creating music that takes time to take root in one’s psyche, but once that seed is sown there is little chance of dislodging it.