Depending on how old you are, your knowledge of Scandinavian pop music may or may not include Denmark’s hard rocking indie band called Mew. Having just released their new album on August 25th entitled [deep breath] 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, the band is on a massive tour this Fall, opening for Nine Inch Nails on several dates including two this week in Los Angeles, before heading to Europe. As a long time fan of the Danish band since the release of their previous album And The Glass Handed Kites (a much less demanding title for the most part), the moment I saw tickets pop up for a headlining show at the famous Troubadour in West Hollywood, I jumped at the chance. Full review after the jump.
The show was my first visit to the Troubadour and it couldn’t have been more eye-opening. For those who are unfamiliar, Mew is pretty difficult band to pin down. At once inviting with melodic choruses and killer rock riffs, the beauty of the band is their ability to turn those melodies and ear splitting rhythms on their heads at a moment’s notice. You’ll find yourself humming along with a song as early as a first listen and then, without warning, the song will explode into a gigantic arena rock anthem you never saw coming… like on “Hawaii” from the new album. Their music is both complex and layered but consistently catchy and pleasant. For example, the newest album opener, “New Terrain,” can reportedly be listened to backwards for an entirely different song. The conflict of dark lyrical themes in contrast with the high-pitch crooning of lead singer Jonas Bjerre is a wildly original combination that creates a mysterious aura that surrounds the band. This is why I love them: each listen presents a new experience and a new way of understanding the songs, both as individual tracks and also as cohesive albums. This proved true in a live environment as well.
Familiar hits from previous albums were sprinkled with new tracks in a brilliant mix of piano ballads and hard rock sing-a-longs. A few notable song highlights were “The Zookeeper’s Boy” from And The Glass Handed Kites and from the new album the song “Beach,” which was announced in the encore as something they had never played live before. Behind the players was a constant stream of trippy iTunes visualization-type light bursts and an utterly dumbfounding array of terrifying/peculiar images ranging from bespectacled animals playing violins to choruses of strange children singing the lyrics (see above). It was everything I could’ve hoped for from such a brilliantly odd band like Mew. As far as I know, both NIN shows are sold out in LA this week, but if you get a chance to see them in future, I wouldn’t dare pass up the opportunity. The songs were performed as deftly as their album counterparts and the energy of seeing a dynamic and original rock band was nothing short of majestic.