The instrumentation that is present during the entirety of Mew’s “And The Glass Handed Kites” is leagues above anything else on the pop radar. There are so many things happening during a Mew track that listeners can play the track on repeat and just pick apart different facets of the dense arrangements that await them. The music that is played is not going to be the next #1 hit on TRL, but those individuals that can search out the Mew disc will be pleasantly surprised. The dreamy soundscape of a song like “Chinaberry Tree” may not be the best thing that as band could do to get fans on their playbook, but Mew swaps out intensity with complexity. This is not the complexity that will turn listeners off from a disc, but a delightful complexity in much the same way as a Rubik’s Cube.
The band does not stick with this dreamy type of meandering pop for the entirety of the disc, however. During tracks like “Why Are You Looking Grave”, Mew ramp up the speed and distortion on their guitars to give the dreamy vocals and entirely new spin. When the band goes into their “Apocalypso”, there are hints of acts like Radiohead, U2, and these acts are coupled with the guitar crunch of acts like Queens of the Stone Age. The use of electronic instruments (synthesizer) during this track gives Mew a sound that just cannot be easily compared. “Special” continues with that same electronic feeling. However, Mew continues to innovate during this track by adding a second set of vocals at times. The different sound given by this second set of vocals brings the band back to the halcyon days of the eighties, as well as keeping them moored in the current period.
The disc is long for an act in the current period. One more song by Mew would put them over the hour mark; the band is able to keep individuals interested by continually throwing curveballs at them. The band has scouted out their fanbase well before committing these tracks to disc; the subtle changing of the band’s framework track in and out is perhaps how the band wins most of their victories. Mew will undoubtedly have other albums in which to wow their listeners, and I have no doubt that individuals will be able to pick up this album and appreciate it as easily as they can do just that with any pop album.
Top Tracks: Zookeeper’s Boy, Fox Club
Mew – And The Glass Handed Kites / 2006 Capitol / 14 Tracks / http://www.mewsite.com / http://www.columbiarecords.com / Reviewed 13 August 2006