Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mew - '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'

Four years after the hugely awesome and critically loved …And the Glass Handed Kites, Danish prog-poppers Mew finally return with 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. Yes, I did double the word count on that sentence by mentioning the full title (and with only one comma!). And yes, I did copy and paste the title. But while Stories’ name is a self-indulgent mouthful, the songs contained within are anything but. Fans get another round of proggy, shoegazey, post-whatever dance tunes. More rocking than Sigur Rós, M83 or Jesu, dreamier than Mogwai, and more technical than Ride or My Bloody Valentine ever got, Mew somehow sound distinct yet familiar, impenetrable yet welcoming.

If Kites was ambitious for being conceived as a single continuous song, Stories outmatches it in less than a tenth of the time with its opening track, “New Terrain.” The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) would’ve loved this song in the ’80s. Tipper Gore wasted a lot of time looking for hidden messages in songs played backwards. “New Terrain” is actually one of the few to contain such a trick – play it backwards, and you get the vinyl-only closing number “Nervous.” Stuttering second track and lead single “Introducing Palace Players” is where the record really kicks in, and it carries a hint of Kite’s hit single “Special” in its DNA. More dreamscapes follow from there.

Oddly enough, any complaints worth leveling against Stories in comparison to Kites are the same that also plagued Kites. Namely, it’s a more “difficult” record. Stories doesn’t have obvious singles like Kites’ “Special” or “The Zookeeper’s Boy,” although “Beach” would definitely be a good third single. But then again, a lot of people thought Kites, with its single song cycle, wasn’t as listener-friendly as 2003’s Frengers. Additionally, the lyrics don’t seem to do anything other than provide syllables – will anyone top the technical proficiency and emotional depth of Asia’s “Heat of the Moment?” – but Sigur Rós sings in a freaking made-up language, so whatever.

It’s not so much what vocalist/guitarist Jonas Bjerre says but how he says it, which is true for most rock music. He emotes beautifully from line to line, lending a resonance that is felt more than strictly understood. Which is perhaps the best way to explain Stories, and Mew in general. These songs are damn entertaining, the most accessible prog rock to come out in years. And while the average listener might not be able to play songs like “Hawaii” or “Cartoons and Macramé Wounds,” he or she should definitely recognize those songs’ dance value.

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