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5 stars I must admit that I was surprised to see that Mew was added to Prog Archives a few days ago. I checked and there was apparently a thread on the band, in which some of the Crossover team approved them after hearing their new album. Or at least that's what I gathered from reading it. I was slightly surprised due to the fact that I don't think Mew is really overtly prog in any way (I tend to think of them as shoegaze, experimental rock, or indie rock), but Crossover seems the best place for them on PA.

I actually heard of Mew a few months ago, when a friend of mine showed me a few of the songs from "And the Glass Handed Kites" on YouTube, saying I might like the band. I did enjoy the songs quite a bit, so I quickly snatched up this album. And even though it's taken some time to sink in, I'm certainly glad I did. The music has some very obvious shoegaze and alternative rock influences with a bit of post-rock even, and the tracks are a mix of pop and some fairly experimental material. One thing that would definitely draw progressive rock fans to this album though is the fact that it is more or less a song cycle. While the album is indeed divided up into 14 tracks, there is no break in between each of the tracks, so each one flows right into the next one, creating what is more or less one long 54 minute song. Mew tends to lie on the end of shoegaze that is the more melodic and tends to have lots of lush sounds to it. There are some effects and guitar feedback from time to time, but that is not what this band is about. The main reason I like this album so much is the atmospheres. They are some of the most beautiful atmospheres I have heard in modern rock music. I don't think I can really exaggerate my feelings towards them, but they must certainly be heard to be believed. And Jonas Bjerre's high-pitched vocals really help add to that atmosphere.

I will try to avoid making the comparisons I'm sure many people on this site will make about Mew. Yes, I know many will say they hear some Muse and Porcupine Tree in Mew's sound, but I will leave it to others to make those comparisons. I can say that I would recommend "And the Glass Handed Kites", as well as any other Mew album, to fans of both those bands, I could also make similar recommendations to fans of bands such as Oceansize and Radiohead too though. While I'm sure some would debate whether or not Mew is progressive rock, they probably are more so in the spirit rather than the sound, as are most modern prog bands. I've wavered for several months between 4 and 5 stars on this album, but I really think giving it a 4 would be too low. So 5 stars it is, and this may go down as one of my favorite albums of the 2000s.

Report this review (#250641)
Posted Saturday, November 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars mew is obviously a very artistic band, very profound i would say, and this album( some would so boldly call a masterpiece) i would have to say is certainly going in the direction, it is very nourishing in terms of complexity and being catchy, very mature writing. the fact that it is all strung together to sound like 1 very long song is interesting because its not a concept album, it flows from a bit agressive to cute to dancy and many other adjectives. but who am i to tell you what this album is all about. listen to it, it may change your life, or not. either way, i think adleast the young progheads should have 1 mew album in their collection. they are certainly brilliant arnt they?
Report this review (#250906)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Pure beauty...woops that fell out of my mouth. But I don't care.

Mew hasn't been accepted by Prog Archives for a while now (i checked last week to review 2 of their albums , but I couldn't find them, until now, typical proggers) So I have to review this from memory. This should be quite easy because this is an amazing album.

Mew are the only band that I can say are able to encapture the beauty of Sigur Rós, and put amazing high ranged vocals over them (Jonsí from Sigur does sound like a whale), but Jonas has the most unique voice ever. His amazing canon like contapuntal harmonies sore around your head and don't get out unitl weeks later. And this album is absoultely the most figurative of their back catalogue.

1. Circuitry Of The Wolf - An amazing oddly timed jazz instrumental with oddly timed rhythyms and clangy guitars. Perfect start.

2. Chinaberry Tree - Quite dark and edgy, but with beautiful harmonies and melodies. Jonas really displays some lovely performances.

3. Why Are You Looking Grave - A bit like Chinaberry Tree, quite dark and edgy. J Mascis' vocals are very gravey (pun on the title :)) make the song alot more intresting (and it already is too intresting). The chorus is beautiful and catchy.

4. Fox Cub - A very beautiful interlude. Very soft and gentle.

5. Apocalypso - Incredibly addictive and great vocals. Another great song.

6. Special - Proabbly the most catchiest song on the album. Great harmonies and an amazing chorus.

7. The Zookeeper's Boy - If not one of, then defienetly the most beautiful song ever made. Jonas siren like chant is incredibly soul moving. It makes me cry every time I hear it. The amazing contrapuntal chorus is amazing and the amazing harmonies in the verses and the links and the intro is incredibly effective. One of the best songs ever made by humans.

8. The Dark Design - Amazing mellotron intro. Very dark and mysterious. One of Jonas most laid back songs for pitch.

9. Saviours Of Jazz Ballet (Fear Me, December) - Amazing song, with great hypnotic vocals. The instrumental at the end is amazing and very effective.

10. An Envoy To The Open Fields - The intro is very Duke Special. Another song with J. Mascis on it. This is probabbly one of the most happiest songs on the album. It very cheery.

11. Small Ambulance - Just a short instrumental. Reminds me of music from and advert.

12. The Seething Rain Weeps For You (Uda Pruda) - Very Klaxons like intro. Great song with great jaunty moments. The song ends with a Sigur Rós inspired xylophone excerpt.

13. White Lips Kissed - Another beautiful song. Very sad and haunting. Very creepy as well. Great melody throughout.

14. Louise Louisa - Cathcy hooks, and great melodies. The end is incredibly hauntingand very soothing.

CONCLUSION: Definitly one of the best albums ever made in my opinion. There is nothing boring about it, every song is as good as the other, the links between the songs are enjoyable. The lyrics are weird and don't seem to make sense, but it's more about trying to make the listener think up his own story. Very beautiful ideas presented and great catchy hooks. Mew are the equivalent of a hybrid between The Flaming Lips & Sigur Rós (in my opinion)... so what's there to loose. Go out and find this album and buy it, it's worth every penny.

Report this review (#250978)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars So, the thing about Mew: They do excellent, driving, prog-pop. Something (with the exception of some Gentle Giant) I didn't quite believe to be possible. But here it is. Oh yeah, most of their album covers are freaking awful. Particularly "And the Glass Handed Kites".

With "Kites" all the songs segue together, even if there is no earthly reason for them too. It's probably one of the few things I liked on this album as it makes "Kites" seem much longer than it actually is, and for the most part I don't like that--albums should seem shorter than they actually are (because I'm too busy doing air drums and singing along with my awful voice, ideally).

One thing I like about Mew is the musicianship. Not incredibly complicated, but they do what they can to make their songs a little more unusual and skewed and interesting. Check out "The Zookeeper's Boy", it starts off like normal hard rock/alternative rock hybrid until the chorus kicks in and suddenly around a hundred copies of Jonas Bjerre's majestic voice are asking me if I'm his lady. And I don't know what to think. For that song, maybe. It's pretty unexpected and transcendent, although as far as I can tell the lyrics are pretty random. You've got pieces like this:

Tall just like a giraffe You have to climb to find its head But if there's a glitch You're an ostrich You've got your head in the sand


Virtually all of the first ten or so songs on this album are great, and then it slows down and becomes a bit of a downer. It's not really a bad thing, but it really kills the momentum built by the previous songs. There are a few good "sleeper" songs in there, songs that you don't quite catch on to until later.

Overall this is a pretty good album. Not great, due to a poor choice of track arrangement, but there are a slew of good poppy rock songs with progressive coloring.

Report this review (#251716)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Let me say- Wow the music and what the heck with the cover! However the ugly as it may appear, the music is contrastly beautiful and poetic . This is one of a great find this year for me. If you love another alternative prog like The Dear Hunter or The Mars Volta, you will sure love this album.

And The Glass Handed Kites is somewhat a darkly alternative rock that well soaked in progressive/post rock sauce-or maybe another way around. There are range of surprise you could find in this album; It all starts with alternative rock to dark post rock and well change into alternative/punk prog rock, disco-ish, neo-prog rock, then back to alternative prog and end the album with post rock. Variety yet seamless.The strong suit of this album is it full of idea. The musicianship may not be that exotic but the way they arrange things, put them together and the idea of music is so nice and beautiful.

Well, I would not classify this album as a masterpiece of Prog. I would say, however, this is essentially a must-try for all of you proggy head. 4 full stars.

Report this review (#251969)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a wonderful discovery this has been. I found out about Mew a few weeks ago by complete chance and have been addicted since. I'm sure there are a lot of people here that would try and argue that this band is not progressive and as such is not fit to swim among the prog-rock all stars on this site. Afterall, the band creates music that isn't particularly complex, nor does it have a whole lot in the way of extended pieces, odd time signatures, or other things that progressive rock fanatics wet their pants over.

What mew lacks in complexity and skill they make up for in songwriting ten times over. While AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES can not be classified as a concept album, all of the album's tracks transition into one another seamlessly and effortlessly, and it works incredibly well doing so. Each individual track still works wonderfully on its own, but when listening to the album in its entirety, you're given the illusion that you're listening to one long song. Rather than rely on virtuosic skill and fast playing, Mew provides beautifully layered instrumentation for the listener to become lost in, with fantastic vocal harmonies throughout, which makes for one hell of an amazing album from beginning to end.

Report this review (#253019)
Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Perfection by perfectionists

And the Glass Handed Kites is the finest album to ever come out of a Danish rock act. The high ambitions of MEW's complex music succeeds with this release and it shows just how skillful the (at the time) four band members are, both as musicians and composers.

The album is intended as an entire song cycle (in a similar vein of PORCUPINE TREE's The Incident) divided into fourten tracks which holds several highlights. The first seven tracks combines perfectly and creates one of the most powerful and enjoyable beginnings I have ever heard. The tempo slows down on the latter half of the album, but the quality does most certainly not as one beautiful ballad replaces the other throughout.

The dark and gloomy mood of the album is captured brilliantly from the first sound of the opening track "Curcuitry of the Wolf". It is followed up by two excellent tracks in "Chinaberry Tree" and "Why Are You Looking Grave?" which ups the tempo before "Fox Club" leads into the most popular part of the album. The way "Apocalypso", "Special" and "Zookeeper's Boy" links together creates a memorable part on a memorable album. As stand-alone tracks they work as well which explains why they have become the hit singles of Glass Handed Kites

"Dark Design" takes over and leads perfectly into the melancholic final half of the album. It is another beautiful track which is linked well together with the "Saviours of Jazz Ballet (Fear Me, December)". "Small Ambulance" functions as an intermezzo (like "Fox Club" on the first half) before the final three tracks. The second to last track is the highlight of Glass Handed Kites: "White Lips Kissed" is a seven-minute long track which is quite simply stunningly beautiful! The album is rounded off with another haunting ballad, "Louise, Louisa", which is the only track that stands on its own.

MEW have always challenged themselves, trying to create their own, ambitious style of music where nothing is left to sheer coincidences. They succeed completely with this overwhelming album which is a true masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Report this review (#253788)
Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Balance...

"And the Glass Handed Kites" (AtGHK) is characterized by a strange balance between opposing elements such as complexity-simplicity, beauty-uglyness, epicness-minimalism, and catchiness-quirkiness. They manage to combine complex time signatures with catchy sing-along-friendly melodies and the general structure of both the individual tunes and the entire album is really rather unusual. Most of the compositions on AtGHK transition into oneanother giving the impression of constituting a suite.

Several track contains some compositional twists that lead the listener into thinking that a new song has started, and example is the las part of "Apocalypso", which sounds like an entire new song, before the transition into "Special". "A Dark Design" transitions into "Saviors of Jazz Ballet (Fear Me, December)", which changes character several times changing between pompuousness to ambient minimalism before transitioning into the dramaticically opening "A Envoy to the Open Fields", which carries on the dynamic pattern, spicing it up with simple chord progressions distributed over complex time signature patterns. It is very clear that the boys in Mew have a very consciently artistic approach to their music, which works very well.

AtGHK is a very dynamic, but well balanced, complex album with a generally symphonic feel and, to me, not just prog-related but an example of truly progressive and artistic rock music.

Report this review (#254348)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. I purchased this one and "Frengers" at the same time a few years ago, and right from the start I much prefered "Frengers". "And The Glass Handed Kites" much like the cover art has not caught on with me. Taste is a funny thing I suppose. We get 14 songs over 54 1/2 minutes but many of these tracks blend into one another.

"Circuitry Of The Wolf" opens with guitar and pounding drums before the keys come in. It gets heavier then some vocal melodies arrive. It blends into "Chinaberry Tree" where we get vocals right away. It turns spacey before 2 1/2 minutes to the end. "Why Are You Looking Grave" has some good bass early and I like the vocals too. Keys 3 1/2 minutes in as drums build to end it. "Fox Cub" features reserved vocals and a laid back sound. "Apocalypso" kicks in right away. I can't get into this one though. It blends into "Special" which is one of my favourites. A good beat as vocals come in. "The Zookeeper's Boy" has a nice instrumental intro before the vocals arrive.

"A Dark Design" opens with synths as vocals join in. It kicks in before a minute and blends into "Saviours Of Jazz Ballet (Fear Me, December)" . It settles before a minute then again 2 minutes in with vocal melodies. Atmosphere late. "An Envoy To The Open Fields" has a loud intro before settling then the drums kick in again. "Small Ambulance" features jangly guitars and vocal melodies. "The Seething Rain Weeps For You (Uda Pruda)" sounds great until the vocals come in. Atmosphere ends it. "White Lips Kissed" is another favourite. Keys to start as reserved vocals join in. A fuller sound 1 1/2 minutes in. It settles 3 minutes in then gets full again. "Louise Louisa" opens with marching styled drums. The song kicks in then settles as these contrasts continue throughout.

Most seem to rate this one and "Frengers" fairly evenly but for me "Frengers" has that magic ability to move and uplift me while "And The Glass handed Kites" does neither for me.

Report this review (#258582)
Posted Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars And the Glass Handed Kites is the 4th full-length studio album by Danish experimental Pop/ rock act Mew. Mew broke into the commercial mainstream with their previous album Frengers (2003) but proved that commercial success doesn´t always equal shallow music.

And the Glass Handed Kites continue the dreamy/ atmospheric pop/ rock style of its predecessor but develops further on the progressive side of Mew´s music. The songs on the album seques into each other to form a musical concept. The lyrics are rather cryptic and not easy to penetrate, so I´m not sure there´s a concept there, but there might be. The band play with unusual time signatures and experiment with song structures but doesn´t lose one bit of their accessibility on the way. The music on And the Glass Handed Kites is still alternative pop/ rock at its core. Jonas Bjerre´s high pitched vocal style is defining for Mew´s sound, but the clever song arrangements, skilled playing and adventurous ideas in the music is also a trademark by now. The use of synths on the album is much more dominant than on earlier releases by the band which I find a real treat.

With 14 tracks on the album there are a couple of songs that doesn´t stand out as much as the rest and if the band had chosen to cut a few tracks I´m sure the album could have been even stronger. I mention this because after listening to the first 7 tracks on the album every nerve in my is screaming masterpiece, but after that it´s like the album dies down a bit until the beautiful White Lips Kissed comes in to save the day ( on the Japanese version of the album there´s an additional version of White Lips Kissed with Japanese lyrics. It sounds great). It´s a gorgeous track and it should have been the perfect ending to a great album, but then the band chose to put in Louise Louisa as the closing track. It´s a track which is much in the same vein as White Lips Kissed so it´s a bit of an anticlimax to end the album with two very similar sounding tracks IMO. As mentioned the 7 first tracks on the album and the way they compliment each other simply makes me loose my breath every time I listen to them. The intricate instrumental opening track Circuitry of the Wolf, the beautiful Chinaberry Tree, the dark Why Are You Looking Grave and the two hits Special and The Zookeeper's Boy are simply outstanding tracks.

The production is outstanding on this album. Clean and sharp. I can´t give enough praises to this sound.

And the Glass Handed Kites could have been a masterpiece and a sure 5 star album IMO, but when parts of the album aren´t as exciting as the best tracks on the album I can´t give more than a 4 ( which by the way is a very high rating). And the Glass Handed Kites is still an excellent album and even the songs, that doesn´t quite reach masterpiece status, certainly earn themselves the tag high quality compositions. This is the place to start if you want to check out Mew.

Report this review (#273422)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars Yes folks, this is the ultimate Mew experience if I've ever heard one!

I've been wanting to hear this album ever since the first time i saw its weird looking album cover. Still, it wasn't until 2010 that I finally came around to experiencing the masterpiece that so many fans have been raving about for almost five years. The band made quite an impression on me the first time I heard And The Glass Handed Kites and I was actually expecting my hype to settle down over time. Instead, this positive feeling continued to grow with each repeated listen, even though some tracks benefited more from the process than others.

So what is it exactly that makes this album a great experience? The tight musicianship, great material, the overall flow of the music and everything else that can be gasped over the mere 55 minutes of pure joy that sums up And The Glass Handed Kites. I, for one, consider it to be a major improvement over the few glimpses of genius that were offered on Frengers. Not only did Mew get rid of that pretentious indie rock-sound and turned it into art rock, but they also made their music a whole lot more consistent and the idea of connecting all the songs into one single composition did work in their favor.

A fond memory that I had while experiencing this album for the first time had to do with the fact that I copied the track-listing incorrectly into my Spotify playlist and so the the album began with the closing number, Louise Louisa, and then played through the rest of the tracks in their right order. This perspective of the album did impress me even more than its proposed order since I actually consider Circuitry Of The Wolf to be a weak opener compared to the parade of wonderful compositions that follow it. This might also be the reason why I still find Louise Louisa to be my favorite track off this album. The dark atmosphere that surrounds the tune towards its second half is almost as ravishing as the entire soundtrack to Twin Peaks!

There is really no denying that I have a have a soft spot for this album and the fact that it has remained a consistent member of my playlist for almost a year is enough to give it the high praise that it truly deserves.

***** star songs: Chinaberry Tree (3:33) Why Are You Looking Grave (3:51) Apocalypso (4:47) Special (3:13) The Zookeeper's Boy (4:43) An Envoy To The Open Fields (3:40) White Lips Kissed (6:45) Louise Louisa (7:18)

**** star songs: Fox Cub (1:56) A Dark Design (3:29) Saviours Of Jazz Ballet (Fear Me, December) (3:18)

*** star songs: Circuitry Of The Wolf (2:45) Small Ambulance (1:05) The Seething Rain Weeps For You (Uda Pruda) (4:19)

Report this review (#384777)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another pleasant, upbeat, more-complex-than-your-average-run-of-the-mill-indie-rock-band album from Mew, if I do not rate this one as highly as Frengers this is mostly due to the latter being the first Mew album I heard and thus the Mew sound was fresh then. And the Glass-Handed Kites is not quite so fresh though there are plenty of odd, idiosynchratic, "proggy" nuances to the music and vocals. I concur with the comparisons to THE CURE and MY BLOODY VALENTINE and RADIOHEAD though Mew's synthesis is different, lighter, more danceable. Still not sure this is really a "prog" group.

Album highlights: "Apocalypso" (4:46) (8/10); "A Dark Design" (3:29) (8/10); "Saviours of Jazz Ballet (Fear Me, December)" (3:19) (8/10), and; "The Seething Rain Weeps for You (Uda Pruda)" (4:19) (8/10).

Report this review (#459447)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Progressive pop? More pop than progressive.

The music has a particular style and defined. With some good vocal harmonies and intelligent developments in general. What I'm not convinced is the instrumentation. In many cases there is an explosive sound ball, uncontrolled, without much sense to me. In other good mixing is achieved, as in Special or Why Are You Looking Grave?, But focused more to Indie.

The last two tracks are gentler: White Lips Kissed begins with a soft piano, sung with feeling and energy that is gaining in its development, but without being chaotic. Louise Louisa walking trails similar, though a bit monotonous. It has good ideas and is dose variation. Good finish.

The artwork is absolutely tasteless.

I can not assign more than 3 in rating.

Report this review (#978542)
Posted Saturday, June 15, 2013 | Review Permalink

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