Mew indulges its more experimental tendencies on No More Stories”¦

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      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 (Columbia)

      Is Mew on a mission of self-destruction? You might get that impression from the awesomely unwieldy title of the Danish band’s latest album, seemingly designed to ensure that no one will ever remember the whole thing. You might also wonder when you hear No More Stories”¦ for the first time. The opening number, “New Terrain”, is a disorienting swirl of vocals that sound backwards but (mostly) aren’t. There are some reversed words in there, though, and if you play the track in reverse you get entirely different song called “Nervous”, complete with its own set of lyrics. The next song, “Introducing Palace Players”, trundles along on some brain-twisting interplay between guitarist Bo Madsen and drummer Silas Utke Graae Jí¸rgensen, who hold down a polyrhythmic groove for nearly two minutes before singer Jonas Bjerre finally comes in.

      Okay, so “self-destruction” is a tad strong. Instead, let’s assume that Mew has little interest in pandering to any casual fans it picked up with its fourth album, And the Glass Handed Kites, the release that suddenly made the band, roughly a decade into its career, a darling of U.S.–based alt-rock blogs. And no wonder: that record was a marvel, with the Danes tempering their prog tendencies with soaring choruses and lush waves of dream-pop guitar. (In the credibility department, it didn’t hurt Mew’s stateside fortunes to have indie-rock god J Mascis contribute to a couple of the tracks.)

      If in creating No More Stories”¦ Mew sacrificed a few of the earlier album’s immediate charms in favour of indulging its more experimental tendencies, the end product doesn’t suffer as a result. Despite its love of idiosyncratic time signatures and the odd bit of studio trickery, Mew always errs on the side of listenability, which can’t always be said for the arguably like-minded Radiohead. The payoffs for giving this record your undivided attention (aided by a good set of headphones, preferably) are many. “Repeaterbeater”, which kicks off with a metallic oomph, is a short and satisfying rocker. The verses of “Hawaii” blend marimba and kalimba for an appropriately tropical flavour, before the song explodes skyward in a glorious choral refrain. “Tricks of the Trade” welds a string arrangement to a beat-box pattern and swooping synthesizers.

      The unquestionable highlight, however, is the album’s centrepiece, “Cartoons and Macramé Wounds”. Over its seven-minute-plus length, the song unfurls through a series of melodic movements before thundering to a climax that features an epically layered burst of guitar feedback, Bjerre’s soaring falsetto, and Jí¸rgensen’s hammer-of-the-gods drums. Oh, and a choir. It’s ambitious and more than a little overblown, but it’s also undeniably beautiful. And who wouldn’t love that?

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