[sic] Magazine

Mew – No More Stories EP

I’ve been waiting four long years to hear something new and fresh from Mew, but apparently good things (in fact, brilliant things) come to those who wait.

And in the weeks before they unleash their fifth full-length album, Mew has alleviated a little of the pain of waiting with the No More Stories EP This all-too-brief collection of songs — two from the album and three B-sides — shows that the band hasn’t lost their knack for swirling, atmosphere-soaked rock ‘n’ roll with an epic bent. And the album songs show that their next album will be a stunner.

’Introducing Palace Players’ starts off surprisingly low-key — a Spoon-esque guitar riff meandering through a repetitive melody, riddled with video-game synth. For a moment there, I thought they had lost their golden touch.

Then the melody quiets, and the entire song suddenly blossoms into a transcendent new sound — the core of gritty rock ‘n ‘roll is still there, but it’s awash in gentle shimmering synth and slightly wistful vocals (“Something peculiar/Fits the two of us/I am not yourself/I didn’t want it to”). Then there’s the fast-driven ‘Repeaterbeater’ with its perpetually fragmenting riffs and blazing bass; it sounds like a frenetic car chase through a psychedelic tunnel.

And then there are the B-sides that round off this EP. They aren’t quite the shards of pure brilliance that the first two songs were, but they are pretty solid pieces of work, each with their own unique sound — there’s a trippy little ambient song called ‘Owl’ the droning piano ballad that melts into a mellow pop song in ‘Start’ and the soaring clashing ‘Swimmer’s Chant’.

Listening to this EP reminds me why I adore Mew as much as I do — they sculpt epic rock ‘n’ roll that goes hard ‘n’ fast, but also infuses itself with colourful, light-filled beauty. The biggest flaw with this EP is simply that a couple of the B-sides are somewhat lacking in life and complexity — for instance, ‘Owl’ is pretty but forgettable, and ‘Swimmer’s Chant’ has some awkward, hiccupy moments.

The instrumentation here is simply stunning — we’ve got some blazing bass alongside powerful winding riffs and gentler acoustic melodies, studded with drums and wrapped in a luminous veil of colourful synth. And they weave in some different sounds as well: watery ambient-synth, a rattle of bells, and soft streams of piano that infuse the last couple of songs — and surprisingly, the softer stuff is almost as good.

Jonas Bjerre has a nice voice for this kind of music — he sounds distant and a bit androgynous. But he manages to make himself heard even in the louder songs. Some of the lyrics are on the weak side (“You think this way/Jumping off the see-saw/Company just wanting to be”) but most of them are slightly off-kilter (“Don’t break the bottle/There is water inside your heart”) and beautifully sad (“I try to do right, but it’s wrong/Nothing feels right with you gone”)

Mew whet the appetite with No More Stories EP, demonstrating their more up tempo sound and throwing in a trio of B-sides for good measure. Definitely worth hearing, especially the first two songs.