When you hear the word "Mew" you can have one of two reactions to it:
1. Nostalgia tracing back to the days of pokemon where that elusive # 151 was the gamer's wet dream
2. A sense of excitement because now you get to have a discussion about one of the most original pop-rock bands around
If you chose the former of the two, I was once there. However, if you chose the latter, then you've obviously already discovered the surreal lyrics and vocals of Jonas Bjerre, the sonic guitar work of Bo Madson, the intricate drum style of Silas Graae and the bass lines of Johan Wohlert which can only be described as a perfect fit.
This album is not easy to swallow. This album does not present songs in hopes that the radio will decide to play a few tracks, but this album still remains to be catchy in the most uninviting fashion possible. Mew's And the Glass Handed Kites is not an album to be dismissed as another pop effort that deserves a place in the bargain bin outside of an FYE outlet. Rather, Mew's latest effort is the quintessence of what you should swallow, what the radio should play, and what catchy songs should be.
The album kicks open with a song that seems like it's lost its melody and is frantically trying to find it again. "Circuitry of the Wolf" finally manages to regain itself and you wonder how pop music could sound so dark but still remain, well, pop. The sheer complexity of the music is baffling at times. Jonas' goose bump inducing voice fades in with the song's crescendo and immediately opens up the second track on this album, "Chinaberry Tree". From there you're pulled down a meandering rabbit-hole of catchy tunes, powerful soundscapes and heart-melting ballads. All of which have Jonas' unique singing style laid over them with lyrical content inspired by his frequent nightmares.
This might explain the sometimes nonsensical writing of Jonas, as he even admits that a lot of the time he doesn't really understand what the songs mean. In regards to one of the albums catchiest tunes, "The Zookeeper's Boy" he is quoted as saying, "It came from a dream I had. I always tend to be more inspired during the night. I woke up one night and had this idea. I don't always know what the lyrics are about, they're just images that I come up with and I just write them, it's sort of surreal."
With such a uniquely crafted lyrical style and beautiful vocals, the only thing that could bring Mew down is the musicians in the band. Thankfully, they're just as innovative as their vocalist. The entire album was made to flow as if it was one song, and they definitely did an excellent job at accomplishing this. The changes between songs are seamless. If you're not paying close enough attention, you might be five tracks into the album and still think it is one song; One incredibly diverse, limitlessly imaginative and refreshingly original song. Songs like "Apocalypso" make you wonder how you went so long without listening to this band. The immense range of emotions exhibited by this album is something that really can't be put into words. Mew has created something here that really wants, no, deserves the attention of music lovers around the world. They've created an album that's familiar and foreign at the same time, an album that is endlessly progressive but ear-pleasingly catchy, an album that you could dance to if you weren't so immersed in the music. Basically, Mew has created an incredible musical experience, and you would be doing yourself a disservice to ignore it.
Final Rating: 5/5
The Zookeeper's Boy