Apr 03, 2015 Web Exclusive
You expect Mew to play the angles, every single one of them. Fortunately none of them are ever obtuse.
The Danish band has earned great acclaim for their creativity that never leaves the listener behind. Frontman Jonas Bjerre and the rest of Mew have explored every potential twist, turn, and texture through each of their five albums, from the otherworldly, expansive pop of Frengers to the unpredictably dark post-rock of And the Glass Handed Kites. They test and tease, even as they remain committed to leaving a solid, standing sonic structure in the end.
After a nearly six-year absence, the band is back with +- (plus minus), an album that maintains this commitment, even as it plays in new directions. While some tracks remain in the band's epic and dreamy wheelhouse (the starry lead single "Satellites," the more straightforward "The Night Believer"), the band plays with Top 40 pop/R&B influences on the fantastic "Water Slides" and destroys and rebuilds any sense of time on "Clinging to a Bad Dream." "Making Friends" is silky smooth, albeit through Mew's filter.
Lyrically most of Bjerre's lines are abstract or even nonsensical (e.g. "I like you real silver-like/Oh see them fast, take off at last/And we get better" from "Satellites"), but he becomes a bit more vulnerable on the closing tender refrain of "Cross the River on Your Own." Bjerre's tenor fronts a heavenly synth that sounds almost choral near the end as he encourages the listener, "Don't let go of your light."
Whether it's the return of original bassist Johan Wohlert, who left before 2009's No More Stories... or an ample amount of time away to recharge, Mew has returned with a robust set that should satisfy fans who've waited a half decade for new songs. (www.mewsite.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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