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MEW HOPES FOR LONG AWAITED BIG U.S. BREAKTHROUGH WITH ‘VISUALS’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

When you bring up the Danish band, Mew, the majority of Americans will assume you are talking about a Pokemon character – rather than one of the most uniquely talented bands of the last two decades. While Mew has toured with big mainstream acts like REM and Nine Inch Nails, they are on their seventh album and 22nd year playing together, yet no closer to touching mainstream recognition in America. The latest effort, Visuals, can claim to be the most concise in its conception, only spanning a year, it still has the signature depth and intricacies that make Mew’s work endlessly entertaining.

One thing that stands out when listening to Mew, is how each band member, is a virtuoso and insanely talented in their own right. Singer, Jonas Bjerre, has an incredible vocal range with a signature falsetto while drummer, Silas Jorgensen, is surgical in his larger-than-life drum fills. Visuals is an eclectic sampling of various shades of Mew, with lugubrious instrumentals, upbeat pop beats, and euphoric orchestras all coalescing over tan incredible eleven tracks.

Influences and genres are starkly juxtaposed and smoothly blended on Visuals. Beginning with “Nothingness and No Regrets” which encapsulates the beauty and hope that slowly builds on the album opener. “Candy Pieces All Smeared Out” is a unique power pop grinder that is equal parts Stravinsky and Brian Wilson. Beautiful synth soundscapes shoot through “In A Better Place” while ominous and dark staccato chords fill out “Ay Ay Ay”.

A pure 80’s dance sound spills out of “The Wake Of Your Life” while hypnotic slow emissions emanate from “Shoulders”. One of the first singles from the album, “85 Videos”, carries the classic structured chorus and mood that tenured fans have grown to recognize. Yet, while each song seems to spring from a separate spring of emotion, it is the closing song “Carry Me To Safety” that displays the quintessence of Mew’s brilliance – a slow build that shimmers with a melancholic mystery.

It is rare to find a band with the skill set and songwriting prowess to incessantly explore new modicums and sounds – yet Mew pulls it off, seemingly effortlessly. Visuals has the ammunition to create new fans while simultaneously stimulating their faithful ones as well. True to their incredible range, Mew offers the intimacy and creativity of indie music while allowing their talent and songwriting to explode into massive stadium–worthy anthems, anointed themselves one of the few, or perhaps only, ‘Stadium Indie’ bands.

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