Melodic Vocals meet Ethereal Instrumentation
Danish progressive rock band, Mew, have developed an otherworldly sound that can only be produced across the pond. Their progressive nature can be attributed to the wide spectrum of genres that are funneled into their latest collection, +/-, released April 28th. The album incorporates aspects of indie and pop as well as stadium and psychedelic rock, resulting in a complex work that reveals itself a little more with each speculation. Mew’s two notable compilations, Frengers (2003) and The Glass Handed Kites (2006), both received critical acclaim and set the stage for this next pronounced accomplishment.
When first approaching this album, it is hard to pin down the sound with similarities to other artists. It would seem that the sound is derivative of a pop-infused Radiohead, with qualities of moi Caprice, a fellow indie rock band from Denmark. The album opens with “Satellites.” Released as a single, it is a perfect launching point into the expanse that is +/-. Cascading arpeggios laced with heavy reverb and echo merge with the shrill yet soothing vocals of Jonas Bjerre. The song erupts into an indie-stadium anthem littered with thick sustained notes and a soaring chorus. “Witness” demands immediate attention with a powerful distorted guitar hook and sprinting drums. Bjerre sings the verses in a lower tone that successfully emulates the vocals of Paul Banks from Interpol.
As the album develops into songs like “Making Friends” and “Waterslides,” Mew shows their softer side and influences of an electronic breed, making use of synths to create a resonating atmosphere. “My Complications” begins with an almost cheesy-sounding pop riff that quickly evolves into a harder hitting indie-rock riff. “Interview the Girls” continues the pop theme but with an electronic flavored backdrop. While few of the songs on this album are relatively short, the longest is “Rows” clocking in at 10:44. The length allows for the track to gain momentum and expand with emotion.
+/- is a melodic work that displays the creativity of a talented, progressive group. The light-hearted vocals contrast well with the ethereal instrumentation. Mew has succeeded in assembling an album that seems to grow with each additional assessment.