+- is the new album by Danish art-rockers, Mew. Their sixth studio album was produced by Michael Beinhorn.This is an album of pop hooks set against a sweeping backdrop of prog-ish indie rock. The band source their influences from far and wide. There is also a guest appearance from Bloc Party’s guitarist, Russell Lissack.
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Only an ‘s’ sound separates Mew from Muse. There are other similarities too, both make stadium-ready histrionic rock, both don’t know the meaning of the word ‘understatement’ but whereas Muse sell out stadiums across the world, Mew are big-ish in their native Denmark with a cult following in other places. Oh there’s one other major difference too, Muse have absolutely nothing to commend them and are a big vacuous waste of space, Mew are one of the few bands who do ‘big music’ well.
Opener ‘Satellites’ just about sums them up, clever, inventive yet you can see them playing this live surrounded by a spectacular firework display. Just when you think they are all bluster and no trousers there’s a fantastic chorus hook that will draw you in. One part Yes, one part Simple Minds - lets punch the air. Their songs filter prog rock through a prism of ‘90s indie - twisting and turning until you can’t remember what music is anymore. ‘Witness’ is one of the few songs which eschew vocalist Jonas Bjerre’s John Anderson-ish squeak but there he is on the chorus on a song which kind of sounds like a prog-tastic Eurovision entry. They need to be careful not to lose their edge though - their best records - ‘And the Glass Handed Kites’ -is one have a grungy edge to them and you worry that tracks like ‘The Night Believer’ could be played on the Denmark edition of ‘The Voice’ without anyone batting an eyelid and I’d prefer them not to euro-ballad me to death as they do on ’Making Friends’ which veers too near Climie-Fisher territory with guitar solos that can only be described as woeful.
Still, this is as always an inventive band as ‘Clinging to a Bad Dream’ proves with it’s stop/start rhythms and peculiar afro-beat interludes and ‘My Complication’ is a breezy blast of Bloc Party assisted twisty rock. Slightly too polished at times but this is wildly clever. Next time to want to enormo-rock, remember to drop the ‘s’.
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