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FRENGERS

Mew

Crossover Prog


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5 stars It's hard not to gush about Frengers. I was hooked from the first spin and there's never a time I can't come back to such a consistently good tracklist.

Frengers is the second Mew album I got my hands on. I wasn't completely enthralled with Triumph for Man but there were some excellent tunes there so I gave them a second chance. Goodness, am I thankful I did. Frengers is the definitive Mew experience and after hearing everything up to their recent 2009 No More Stories I can say without hesitation that my statement still stands.

I would compare Mew to another band, but I honestly can't think of anyone that sounds similar. They are in a genre of their own. A bit shoegazey and a bit spacey, but hard to define. In a recent interview, Bo mentioned that they just make pop, but in a slightly different way. I guess that's good enough.

There isn't a moment of displeasure from the second you start the album. The album takes a very small dip with Symmetry leaving you a little disappointed after the quality of the first three tracks. It sure does pick back up though, with each song besting the last all leading up to the bombastic finale Comforting Sounds, a song that deserves special mention.

Any fan of Mew should claim Comforting Sounds to be their best song. Anything else is wrong, period. Everything good about Mew is epitomized in the most worthwhile 9 minutes of music. A slow, brooding start showcasing Jonas' strangely beautiful, high-pitched voice leads you in. Four minutes later it blasts you in the face with a loud, emotional charge as Jonas' lyrics turn to unintelligible howls that soar across the music. A shattering finale, and then it ends. You're left in awe. A supreme finish to an excellent album.

It's hard for me to truly pick my absolute favorite album, but Frengers is a clear contender. This is probably the closest music can get to perfection.

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Send comments to Cool Top (BETA) | Report this review (#250428)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 stars. My daughter introduced me to this band about 3 years ago, I guess it was popular with her and her University friends back then. I ended up buying this one and "And The Glass Handed Kites". On the "RYM" site they list it under three genre headings "Dream Pop", "Indie Pop" and "Progressive Pop". So you get the picture right ? This is poppy but it is proggy as well. And man is it ever good. In fact this album is one of many I have that I will play simply to lift my spirits. It makes me at least feel something and that's what I love about it. The vocalist reminds me of SIGUR ROS' singer only he's singing in English and in a normal way. Oh and the title "Frengers" is according to the liner notes someone who is not quite friends and not quite strangers. Frengers. Hence the album cover (haha). Man I don't like their album covers though.

"Am I Wry? No" is a top three track for me. The drumming is so impressive early on and I like the jangly guitar melodies. Vocals a minute in.This is so uplifting. Great section to end it as the rhythm section becomes prominant. "156" is another top three tune. Spacey winds and strummed guitar to open as reserved vocals come in. It picks up before a minute. So moving. It's really dreamy then it kicks in.Themes are repeated. Great song. "Snow Brigade" has some nice drum / bass work on it as the vocals almost seem to be in the background.They come to the fore on the chorus. Love the chorus. "Symmetry" opens with piano and guest female vocals. Male vocals and acoustic guitar join in. It gets fuller before 2 minutes.

"Behind The Drapes" has this heavy rhythm as vocals join in. How can you not feel emotion listening to this ? "Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years" is catchy with a beat and vocals. "Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed" is the other top three track. It builds slowly. My God when the vocals come in i'm so touched. Nice bass before 2 1/2 minutes. "She Came Home For Christmas" opens with some atmosphere and a beat. Higher than normal vocals join in.This is powerful music. Sounds like violin to end it. "She Spider" opens with acoustic guitar and spacey keys. Soft vocals arrive. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. What a contrast ! This feels so good. Scorching guitar before 3 minutes. "Comforting Sounds" would have been a good title for the album. It's laid back with vocals to open. Piano joins in. It kicks in before 4 1/2 minutes. Nice. The rest of the way is all instrumental.

A special album for me.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#251882)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not quite friends, but not quite strangers

I am glad to see MEW being added to ProgArchives as their latter works certainly include some progressive elements (especially "And the Glass Handed Kite"). "Frengers" is a bit more straightforward than their latest two releases, but what is amazing about this album is that you get into it almost immediately and yet you never really grow tired of it.

"Frengers" was the breakthrough album for MEW both nationally (Denmark) and internationally and they have gone on to become one of the most interesting music groups to ever come out of Denmark. I have heard the album regularly for some years now and I believe "Frengers" to be a very good starting point for anyone interested in the music of MEW.

The voice of Jonas Bjerre is one of the most beautiful in modern rock music and the musicianship of the group is very (sometimes strangely) well-composed. The album begins in style with three of the more heavier tracks: "Am I Wry? No", "156" and "Snow Brigade". On the heavier side of "Frengers" the second to last track, "She Spider", needs to be singled out as well.

MEW's way of mixing hard-hitting music with soft, beautiful dream-pop/rock is remarkable. "Symmetry" and "She Came Home for Christmas" are both stunningly moving, but the highlight of the album is undoubtedly the final track, the nine-minute long "Comforting Sounds". This might be one of the most beautiful tracks written in this decade.

Fans of PORCUPINE TREE, RADIOHEAD and SIGUR RÓS will most likely become very good friends with MEW. I will highly recommend "Frengers" to anyone who finds some quality in any of the three before mentioned artists. It might lack that little bit of progressiveness to make it a masterpiece of progressive rock music, but it deserves at least four big stars.

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Send comments to Yoke (BETA) | Report this review (#252496)
Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Breakthrough...

"Frengers" was Mew's big breakthrough, and it was an instant hit in their native country Denmark, which in itself is somewhat of a feat, given that the Danish music industry has generally been oriented towards mainstream pop, leaving alternative and progressive rock music buried in the underground (which many prog fans don't mind of course).

It's no coincidence that "Frengers" became such a big hit. A large portion of its tracks are highly improved versions of track already released on the "Half the World Is Watching Me"-album; these tracks are "Am I Wry? No", "156" (although, I miss the really quirky opening of the original version), "Symetry", "Her Voice Is Beyond Her Ears", and "Comforting Sounds". This means that the tracks have been "tested" before, allowing Mew to fix things that did not work and further enhance those that did. In that sense "Frengers" is really an epitome of musical perfectionism. There is only one weak track on the album, and that's "Symmetry", which I personally think is boring. All the other tracks are great. They balance artiness, fragility, bombasticness, heaviness, and catchiness very well.

While not as progressive as "And the Glass Handed Kites", "Frengers" does contain many progressive moments, a lot of which are inherited from the "Half the World"-album through recycling of songs (well, it's not really as much recycling as it is upgrading). Thus, "Comforting Sounds" is even more epic and symphonic on "Frengers", and the bolero-effect is much more convincing here. "Am I Wry? No" retains the symphonic waltz bridge, but a better production makes it sound more grandiose. Several of the "new" songs also contain progressive elements. "Snow Brigade", my favorite Mew song of all time (sorry, sinkadotentree ;-) ), while hardhitting and generally accessible, contains a bridge in which the guitar pattern interchanges between 11/8 and 13/8 while the drums follow an AC/DC-style 4/4 (which all adds up in the end). Several guitar riff all over the record contain strategically placed breaks, and themes are also repeated with variations in several songs. The drumming is superb changing from rhythmically complex figures to straightforward drumming, which really shows what a great drummer Silas Graae is.

If you're into melancholic alt-rock, you'll love this album, and if you have a wekaness for progressive music, but don't mind some poppiness now and then, then this album might also be something for you.

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Send comments to Time Signature (BETA) | Report this review (#254356)
Posted Saturday, December 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Frengers is the third full-length studio album by Danish experimental pop/ rock act Mew. Frengers was the album that earned Mew international commercial success after releasing two albums that by and large only made an impact in Denmark. Several of the songs on the album appeared in other versions on the first two albums by the band. She Came Home for Christmas appeared on A Triumph for Man (1997) while Am I Wry? No, 156, Symmetry, Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years and Comforting Sounds appeared on Half the World Is Watching Me (2000).

The music style on Frengers is experimental alternative rock. It´s not overtly progressive but there are leanings here and there. Playing with time signatures and unusual song structures in some songs on the album are some of those leanings, but it´s mostly the attitude on the album that oozes the will to experiment and make innovative music. The music is centered around the distinct high pitch vocal style of lead vocalist/ guitarist Jonas Bjerre. He often reminds me of Jónsi Birgisson from Sigur Ros. The mood in the music is melancholic but not really dark. Most of the songs on the album are really excellent and tasteful examples of melacholic/ longing pop/ rock. Songs like She Came Home for Christmas, Am I Wry? No, 156, Symmetry, Snow Brigade, She Spider and Comforting Sounds are of high quality IMO while the three songs that appear in the middle of the album Behind the Drapes, Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years and Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed don´t do as much for me. They are still good but not really excellent to my ears. The opener Am I Wry? No and the beautiful and slow building Comforting Sounds are among my favorites. The latter has an extended slow building almost symphonic ending that should please most fans of progressive rock.

The musicianship is excellent on the album. A great emotional vocalist, adventurous guitar and bass playing and some excellent drumming too.

The production is an excellent, clean sounding and powerful production.

Frengers is an excellent album by Mew and a gigantic step forward compared to earlier releases. The three more ordinary tracks mean that my rating is 3.5 - 4 stars instead of a clean 4 star rating though.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#260610)
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After falling in love with And The Glass Handed Kites it felt natural to explore more of Mew's discography and Frengers definitely felt like the next move for me considering that it was the band's breakthrough release. In a way, this album can be considered a best-of compilation of their early days since a great deal of the material featured here consists of re-recordings of songs from Mew's first two albums. There's really nothing unusual about this occurrence and many artists try to incorporate more of their early material into the repertoire once they get the attention from a wider audience. The biggest difference is that Mew didn't have a large fan base to distribute their material to, so a move of this sort was quite a bold one and, looking back at it, a successful such!

After only listening to this album for a week or so, I pretty much left it off my playlist and didn't return to it until almost a month later. By that time I've completely forgotten what this release was all about and gave it a new fair chance to impress me. This didn't work in the favor of Frengers, which is sad considering that there are quite a few nice moments scattered all throughout the album. The music is performed by a competent band that has already established their own distinguishable sound and they do have a back catalog of tunes that would satisfy most newcomers. The downside is that the material is all over the place and lacks the consistency that I expect of a single studio release. On top of that, there is also an indie rock-vibe that I truly can't stand that makes its presence known on a couple of occasions. The final nail in the coffin comes from the fact that this is not a progressive rock album and not even the 9 minute long closing track, Comforting Sounds, can change my mind about that.

All in all, Frengers is a good introduction to Mew and their early back catalog but I cannot recommend it to a fan of progressive rock since the music featured here is closer to the indie rock sound of its time than the genre that we're all accustomed to.

***** star songs: Snow Brigade (4:19)

**** star songs: Am I Wry? No (4:55) 156 (4:54) Behind The Drapes (3:38) She Came Home For Christmas (3:54) She Spider (4:37) Comforting Sounds (8:53)

*** star songs: Symmetry (5:38) Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years (2:46) Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed (4:46)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#384696)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2011 | Review Permalink

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