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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 CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.76 | 60 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Before I became a fan of progressive rock, when progressive rock was just a phrase that described Pink Floyd and a mixed CD a friend had given me, but that had no particular meaning to me, I bought CDs that had songs I liked on them, for the songs. Every once in a while, I would pick up a CD that sounded much better as an album, such as Midnight Oil's 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 or Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. And I had a lot of respect for these albums, and enjoyed them immensely, and this is probably part of why prog grew so appealing to me. It is definitely a genre where the album is very important.

This album by Mew does not strike me that way. To me, this album is more like the albums I was buying before prog. The type of album that you listen to a few times, pick out your favorite songs, toss them in a playlist, and then play the playlist on shuffle.

Mew is a band that wants to be different. They made this abundantly clear with their packaging. The art itself is just zany, but there are plenty of bands who have zany art. No, Mew used different means to say that they are different - the album name (which is literally 8 lines long, the lyrics to the song "Hawaii Dream" off of the album), the name of tracks 5 and 12 (on the CD, they are represented by images instead of words - although on PA, they are labelled as Intermezzo 1 and Intermezzo 2), the font used (The s's look like cracked eggs), and lastly, they even made use of the bar code (expanding it to be taller than your typical bar code, so that it is actually part of the art on the back). If these clues were not enough to convince you, their singer (Jonas Bjerre) has been quoted saying:

"I think that we combine pop music with something that's much more experimental, in our own way. I don't think I would even try and describe it. It's difficult."

Unfortunately, for me at least, there is one thing about their music that robs them of this identity that they are trying to build, and that is their voices. Their singing voices always reminds me Death Cab For Cutie. I don't know if they were the first band to sing with this style of voice, but they were the first I heard and so come to mind first.

To be fair, while the sound of their voices is reminiscent of Death Cab, the way that they sing is wholly unique, and seems to follow few of the typical rules that pop bands follow, with melodies shifting and changing constantly as the music plays. Much like Moon Safari, their vocals are their strongest point, although with that statement I am not implying that their vocals are anywhere near as good as Moon Safari's were. Nonetheless, like Moon Safari, the melodies are often carried by the vocals and supported by layers of different voices singing different things or the same thing in harmony. At times, it is easy to forget that there are only three members in the band.

As far as the instrumental work goes, prog fans may find it lacking. When there are vocals, the instrumentals exist mostly to support the vocals, and there are vocals most of the time. That being said, in the short periods where the instruments get to stretch, they do do some interesting things. Introducing Palace Players, for example, has an opening drum beat that has very little to do with the guitar playing at the same time, making the intro feel off balance in a very interesting way.

This is perhaps the strongest strength of Mew compared to other song-based bands, is that they try to do new things with their songs. And while perhaps they're not all new (the opening, New Terrain, sounds like it was played backwards), they are at least varied enough to keep the listener on their feet.

Overall, the music is in general built upon consistent drum beats, catchy guitar riffs, and supporting keys that don't usually take the foreground. There is variety within the songs, with most song having some progression between elements, although some are closer to the verse-chorus song structure. Some songs are blessed with less standard instruments, such as some additional percussion on songs like Hawaii and Vaccine.

The best songs off the album are, as is often the case with song-based albums, the catchiest ones. The aforementioned Introducing Palace Players gets props here, although it loses a couple of points because the song is much longer than its creative intro. Silas the Magic Car (perhaps named after Silas Graae, the drummer) is a nice, mellower song, although like Introducing Palace Players, it repeats itself more than your average prog fan is probably accustomed to. In fact, Tricks of the Trade suffers from the same problem, although if it was half the length it would be an excellent track. The best tracks, in my mind, are Vaccine and Sometimes Life Isn't Easy.

The Intermezzo's, unfortunately, are not quite as interesting as the way they are labelled - each is entirely forgettable and, holding to my belief that this album is stronger as songs than as a continuous listen, don't really add any additional value.

Overall, a decent album for those who are looking for a few catchy songs to toss into a playlist, that want something a little bit less cookie cutter than the average song you would hear on that radio. My final score: two stars.

TheGazzardian | 2/5 |


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