No More Stories…

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Label: Columbia

I’ve always been impressed by the bravado that prog rock bands tend to possess. Sometimes, it just isn’t good enough to have a short, catchy album title. Danish indie-rock band Mew’s latest release is 23 words long:

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.

To be fair, it is a poem, but it left a bad taste in my mouth that wasn’t helped by the opening track. “New Terrain” begins with backwards vocals and forward instruments that constantly switch back and forth. Upon playing the track backwards, it becomes a whole new song called “Nervous.” While I commend the band for going out on a limb to create two songs on one track, unfortunately both come across as poor arrangements of one another. Luckily from there on, the album actually picks up speed.

Much like the critically-acclaimed And the Glass Handed Kites, No More Stories… is filled with Bo Madsen’s layered guitar, Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen’s syncopated, polyrhythmic drumming and Jonas Bjerre’s sugary vocals. Like their previous albums, it places the emphasis on the work as a whole over individual tracks. The traditional lines between songs aren’t there. Each flows into another with a seamless motion.

”Introducing Palace Players'” first half is a layering of ambient sounds with Madsen’s guitar almost randomly interrupting, interjecting itself. Later what was once a rough, harsh sound becomes very smooth and eventually blends Bjerre’s vocals, calmly suggesting “You gotta get back up yourself.” “Repeaterbeater” is also just as in your face, Bjerre singing “Sometimes I am nowhere to be found/ If it is just a bed, then why the ringing sound?/ Sometimes we’ve got nowhere to be/ Nothing to talk about/ And nothing to agree on,” amidst a repeating guitar flourish and heavy bass drum hits that you can’t help but dance to.

The album mellows with “Silas the Magic Car” and “Cartoons and Macreme Wounds” both adding a slightly more optimistic tone than the bleak outlook featured on previous Mew albums. After listening to “Hawaii’s” chorus of kids voices, you realize that Mew isn’t simply pop; this, and other tracks like “Tricks of the Trade” and “Vaccine” are extremely complex.

Where And the Glass Handed Kites would ambush your senses into submission early, No More Stories… is far more subtle but just as powerful. After several listens through, I’ve noticed that something deeper has sunk into my subconscious that I wasn’t aware of. Where I once couldn’t understand the lyrics because the complex melodies overrode them; now many have become crystal clear. Long after I’ve put No More Stores… away, I’m pretty sure many of the tracks will stick with me much longer than other concept albums.

by Nicholas Ryan
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