[one_half last=”no”]
Mew - Plus-Minus

NBHAP Rating: 3,6/5


[one_half last=”yes”]MEW
+ –

Release-Date: 27.04.2015
Label: Play It Again Sam

01. Satellites
02. Witness
03. The Night Believer
04. Making Friends
05. Clinging to a Bad Dream
06. My Complications
07. Water Slides
08. Interview the Girls
09. Rows
10. Cross the River on Your Own


Everything back to Zero

From one extreme to another. Danish shoegaze pop four-piece MEW is up for a new twist. After delivering an album with the epic title 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 back in 2009 they now return with a way shorter titled one. And even in terms of its musical content + – takes a different direction and breaks with the ambitious experimental approach of its predecessor. While No More Stories… was packed with dodgy beats and ambitious but cryptic experiments that teamed up with familiar MEW recipes, this one takes things way simpler. Maybe also because of the departure of bassist Johan Wohlert in 2006 the trio felt a bit out of focus. ‘It was more like a cloud of ideas,’ told us singer Jonas Bjerre in a recent interview, ‘It didn’t have as much direction and shape.’ Six years later things have changed. Wohlert is back on board and MEW give up the experiments in favour of a fan-pleasing comeback record.

Remembering your own roots

Right from the moment the powerful anthem Satellites opens + – MEW make no secret of the album’s main message: ‘Hello, we are back. And we sound almost exactly like you remember us.’ While the previous albums by the Danish gentlemen got more and more ambitious and complex with each release their sixth studio album sees the band actually taking a few steps back as they return to their origins and earlier work. The bipolarity between catchy pop melodies and progressive song structures balances more to the first aspect this time. Witness delivers powerful pop/rock while The Night Believer, a duet with Australian singer KIMBRA, is a fine example of radio-friendly material in the tradition of the band’s earlier songs Mica or King Christian. Who would have guessed that? Although songs like the R&B-driven Making Friends or the gentle mid-tempo ballad Water Slides provide a few other ideas the Danes always return to these aspects in the form of powerful pop tunes like My Complications which sees them teaming up with Russell Lissack from BLOC PARTY.

Resting in the comfort zone

Despite the fact that + – delivers more than solid MEW material it also shows a general problem with their latest record. The step back feels unusual for a band that was always famous for pushing its own boundaries forward. The group’s sixth album sounds surprisingly self-referential and even somehow predictable. Especially the 10-minute long Rows offers far too many references to the band’s legendary masterpiece Comforting Sounds. Just listen to the backing vocals of that song. It feels a bit as if MEW are trying to play save with this album, maybe because No More Stories… received mixed critics and they are still, besides being around for 20 years, an insiders tip outside of their home country. + – has the difficult task to change these things and give MEW the international attention and appraisal they clearly deserve. It might not be the best work in their back catalogue but it marks a highly welcomed return of one of Europe’s best kept musical secrets of the past decade. And we’re pretty sure they aren’t afraid to head for the next extreme with a potential follow-up album.

Back to pop: MEW turn down the experiments on + – as they return to the powerful progressive but also slightly predictable pop sound of their earlier days.