Mew is a mishmash band -- a little indie-rock, a little prog, a little pop, a little hard-rock and a little art rock.
And in their third album "Frengers," the Danish band mixes all of those together, and lets listeners hear the grand extent of what they can do. This album is rich with atmospheric music and fiery instrumentation -- an absolutely dazzling, powerful slab of rock'n'roll.
It opens with the shimmering riffs and kinetic basslines of "Am I Wry? No," a hard-edged song with choirlike backing vocals. It grows into a soaring rock epic, before falling back to Jonas Bjerre's high, sharp voice. "Farrah now that we're here/can you tell me exactly how I should/have done?/Farrah drives with her eyes closed/do you ever inflict unwanted memories?"
It gets soft and wintry at the start of the next song, only to blossom out into a fast-paced rocker laced with bells and synth. The songs that follow are the whole sonic palette: muscular rockers, airy piano ballads backed with synth, driving guitar rockers, surreal psychfolk, and lightning-quick rock'n'roll that veers between guitar pop and the hard stuff.
Maybe that's what makes Mew so appealing -- you can't put a label on their sound (psych-pop-prog-hard-art-rock?) and you can't sit still whenever it's playing. Whenever their music settles into a signature "sound," they turn around and change it yet again.
Every song is layered with instrumentation -- some incredibly strong riffs, loud basslines, a fluid piano melody of two, a little synth, and some sharp percussion are all smoothed into one in songs like "Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed." Best of all, their music has an epic, powerful quality -- "Am I Wry? No" has the quality of a feisty thunderstorm.
Jonas Bjerre's voice is a bit elusive. At the start it sounds rather high and nasal, but eventually his vocals start melting into the music itself -- the peak is when he duets with Stina Nordenstam. And the songs he sings are quite solidly written ("Because no one is safe/From someone somewhere's/Sweet embrace/And so I have simply decided/To dislike you now").
"Frengers" is a solid third album for this brilliant Danish band, and the first album that got them the notice they richly deserve. Wonderful piece of work.