Written by: TL on 05/06/2017 19:21:52

Internationally acclaimed Danish band Mew is a group that has an almost 'can do no wrong' kind of reputation here in their home country, prompting expectations to be high as ever when they arrived as their seventh album this year, called "Visuals". It is the first, however, since the departure of founding guitarist Bo Madsen, somewhat ironically since it felt like the original four-piece had only 'just' gotten back together after bassist Johan Wohlert rejoined in 2013. But it is probably not so surprising then, to discover that guitar playing is a much less distinct part of the soundscape here on "Visuals".

Remember the signature riff of "Snow Brigade"? How about the awesome extended intro to "Introducing Palace Players"? Great Mew moments right? Yeah, there's none of that to be found here, as the remaining Mew trio instead explore more ambient and floating sounds - more dream-pop than art rock or prog as the band has previously been labelled. There's a gushing synth and some dramatic drumming to start "The Wake Of Your Life", while "Candy Pieces All Smeared Out" builds on a bombastic part that is perhaps Mew at their "heaviest" ever, but those are exceptions more than rules, as the rest of the record mostly feels akin to the drawn out mellowness of Beach House songs for instance.

And that, frankly, is not a great development for Mew. It's not that they don't still manage to create unique atmospheres around Jonas Bjerre's characteristic falsetto, they do, and it continues to sound like music made by space faeries. But there's no danger component to the band's mysteries like there was in their breakthrough days. Songs like the singles "Carry Me To Safety" and "85 Videos" are catchy, and a track like "Learn Our Crystals" has some nice bubbly horn sounds coming in, but a lot of the time songs sound a bit too much on rails.

There aren't really exciting progressions to trace, striking signatures to look forward to, nor is there conversely patient enough dwelling on any given parts to make for the kind of patient beauty of a classic like "Comforting Sounds". There are hints around the record that Mew have aimed for an exotic feel, kind of like Bombay Bicycle Club's, yet they just haven't managed to give it the nerve to make it as consistently engaging. Instead, you find yourself wondering what you call the ability they display here, of being able to make so many quaint little sounds sound like so little is actually happening when they're all put together in composition.


Download: Carry Me To Safety, 85 Videos, Candy Pieces All Smeared Out
For The Fans Of: Beach House, Blaue Blume, Bombay Bicycle Club

Release date 28.04.2017
Play It Again Sam

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