Music Reviews
No More Stories...

Mew No More Stories...

(Columbia / Dmz) Rating - 7/10

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

In an attempt to obliterate little Jimmy’s chances of winning his 6th grade poetry competition, Mew recited these words with the intention of describing what could be considered their most challenging effort yet. Giving Fiona Apple a run for her money, No More Stories…, and so on, could be instantly considered to be a joke: an incomprehensible babble to further attempt an explanation that after three years, yes, Mew are back. They’re preparing us for quite an experience, which frankly, could just denote a roundabout set of songs that connote some type of sentiment. Hell, even the slightest touch to break that apathy. That clown with butterfly wings doesn’t help either. Let’s just say that they won’t earn a gold star for presentation any time soon.

Mew, like many other bands dubbed “ethereal” in an attempt to explain anything that sounds remotely abstract, have pretty much established that they’re not from that same camp. In fact, they’ve demonstrated in their short, but fruitful career, that they look for murkiness amidst washes of glacial beauty. A Mew experience is usually full of power hooks, atypical compositions that make an algebraic equation appear simple, and synthesized steadiness. Ironically, No More Stories… may finally be the shattering of a wall of sound; it certainly is Mew’s prettiest effort, and certainly the closest they’ve come to screaming at a mountain before flying across a river bank.

If there’s a strength beneath any Mew album, it’s that the Danish trio seem to think their albums through with almost an obsessive perfection. No More Stories… is probably their most uniform statement yet, serving as a foundation to their bizarre thought process. Yes, it’s the kind of album that features intermezzos, reprises, and pictures with song titles, which begs the question that it could reflect something grandiose and unique, or otherwise, an exercise in self-importance.

So how could No More Stories… be described? It kicks off with New Terrain, a muffled, looped play of words that are supposed to be intelligible in yes, both normal and backwards play. If only we knew what singer Jonas Bjerre is trying to convey. This is the kind of song that disguises itself as innovative, when in fact, it's composed of a simple haze of guitars, a few cymbal crashes, and repetitive keyboard plays that would sound fitting as background for Old Testament canticles. Rapidly, it shifts to Introducing Palace Players, a fuzzed out, guitar riff with a funky edge and un-syncopated beats. Lo and behold, their progressive tendencies are back. The album’s first half ends with Beach, featuring straightforward, yet playful synth pop with intricate lyricism. Repeater Beater represents the contrary; it’s a full on rock track reminiscent of the best work that encompassed their previous effort, ...And the Glass Handed Kites.

The second half of No More Stories… crashes all expectations and alters the mood from good-natured to dreary. It certainly is the most relaxed work of their career, best represented in Silas the Magic Car, letting their loungy piano work flourish with acoustic inclinations and childlike harmonizing, literally. Ditching the immediacy of their earlier work, they take a breather and let those feelings sink in with 7-minute haze trip Cartoon and Macreme Wounds and the simple, sweet lullaby of A Dream.

But wait, Mew is up to something here. There’s a budget for some fine mallet instrumentation to bring about some rich, natural sounds. Notably so with Hawaii, probably the oddest track in their career. It curves expectations, starting off with a tropical percussion, later shifting into an unusual middle break that features some retro 80’s style synth work, ending with more vocal chanting that seems fitting for a 30 second ad promoting allergy pills or a new Palm Pre. With Vaccine and Tricks, they revert to their comfort zone, delivering some furious guitar riffs with anthemic post rock tinges, while the latter is their first true blunder as the synths keep dragging along. This isn’t necessarily detrimental, but it could have been edited as they’ve achieved this to better effect in the past.

Mew’s latest is a different kind of monster: the songs drift with a whimper instead of expressing pompous declamations; what doesn’t change is that they still aim high. As No More Stories… nears its end, you’re either enthralled or indifferent by the experience. It bears to be dissected because it is pretty much all over the place, even if what they wanted to achieve could be stored inside a magical pot of gold.