Author: Gustav


London, UK (May 23, 2017)

Mew are a live force. At their best, the combination of jet engine dynamics, pinpoint lighting and unmistakable visuals forms an experience which fully transports the psyche to their unique world. The distinct elements of great Mew shows come together seamlessly, as if directed by a single hand. Over the duration of their finest performances, a visceral glow is imparted from the stage and becomes ever more attached to the consciousness of those in attendance. The reality outside feels like a cold splash in the face.

But tonight’s set opens unsteadily and not wholly on par with their most memorable. In A Better Place is a fine opener; it’s not bombastic by any means, and, unlike many live favourites, its volume is not physically palpable. It’s this tour’s New Terrain circa 2009, or Making Friends circa 2013, songs which worked well as live introductions because they emphasised the dynamic shift between themselves and the anthemic songs which immediately followed. But here, the unavoidably saccharine 85 Videos comes next. Its misjudged position in the setlist has a magnifying effect on its unrestrained sweetness and on its melodic sections which are tonally and rhythmically at odds with one another. It lacks midrange too, and Silas Graae’s snappy parts are, on this occasion, unusually imprecise.

Special comes after, but its erstwhile groovy lead is made incongruously twangy by Mads Wegner’s transposition of it onto his guitar. Whereas in its original form, composed and performed on a baritone Danelectro, it was dark and growling, in its present form it’s treble-heavy and stiff. It clashes with the rest of the arrangement rather than being tellingly entwined in it.

Then, for a while, many Visuals songs come and go, passing without much more life in them than their studio-recorded counterparts. The singles have backdrops which are minimally adapted versions of their music videos, and the non-singles are scarcely decorated on the canvas at the back of the stage. This seems strange when visual elements are said by the band to have been the seed of the album’s songs. The inconsistency in video accompaniment has an unfortunate impact on the flow. My favourite Mew gigs have been the ones where that aforementioned seamlessness in sound and vision have been central to the set’s design, and tonight that’s, at least at first, somewhat lacking.

There is little interaction between the band and the audience. Beyond platitudes of “thanks” and “it’s good to see you again”, Johan Wohlert points out his son, Tristan, who is in the audience of a Mew show for the first time. Suddenly I’m aware of the eleven years that have passed since Johan departed to be with his family and to be a father. It’s been a topsy turvy ride of albums which have taken a million years to arrive, unpredictable changes of direction, and a sense of an artist always striving to be something new, to test what it means to have a clear identity while doing something different at every turn. And then the dynamics between the band members became fraught, one of the cogs in the Mew wheel came loose, and three-piece Mew came back in double quick time with a strangely light and optimistic-sounding record. That lightness is distinct, and borders on flimsiness, when presented live next to older material.

But things shift and mutate. When Water Slides is aired, it’s sturdy and strong. It’s also one of the band’s newest classics, and one of their most underrated compositions. In the best Mew way, it’s a big pop number while being gnarled and dishevelled round the edges, and it’s darkly coloured by enigmatically ominous lyrics. It’s an immediate highlight, and the point in the show where things begin to quickly grow. The set’s final third is a clear success.

Carry Me To Safety is, without any doubt, the most effective of the new songs. Its titanic second chorus, full of thumping drums and animated guitars has a seizing and moving quality. Jonas Bjerre’s closing vocal, with only Dr Watt’s keys in support, is bare and still. The contrast between the loud and quiet is, at this point in the show, really effective. On this evidence, the Visuals album-closer would be a fitting contender to replace Comforting Sounds as set-closer proper. It brings with it previously unseen backdrops too, featuring typical anamorphic figures providing the opening string accompaniment. Unlike in earlier parts of the set, here sights and sounds come together in a way which seems fully formed. The new addition holds its own next to the tried and tested material which surrounds it in the setlist.

There are several pieces of music you can expect to hear at a Mew concert: Special, The Zookeeper’s Boy, Am I Wry? No, 156, and Comforting Sounds. It’s something of a mystery that the musicians onstage never tire of them. As the band leave the stage following Carry Me To Safety, I know the latter three of those songs will follow in the encore. I’m thinking about the band’s potential to play any other three songs from their back catalogue in their place and pull it off, to introduce more unpredictability into their live shows and do justice to the amount of good music they’ve produced over their career. But then Am I Wry? No and 156 land in the most perfectly Mew way. The at once pummelling and spellbinding quality of those songs’ live forms shakes me awake from scepticism. It blots out the memory of any miscalculations which came before. And it brings me into a present which is designed, in such totality, by an artist whose inimitable power to affect me is immediately clear. Tonight’s ending reminds those in attendance in one fell swoop, that, no matter what happens, and wherever they go, Mew’s history will carry them still.

Text & Photos: Gustav Greijer

Setlist: Shepherd’s Bush Empire (London, UK)
In a Better Place / 85 Videos / Special / The Zookeeper’s Boy / Satellites / The Wake of Your Life / Introducing Palace Players / Twist Quest / Ay Ay Ay / Water Slides / Apocalypso / Saviours of Jazz Ballet / Carry Me To Safety — Nothingness and No Regrets / Am I Wry? No / 156 / Comforting Sounds


With less than a month to go until a very special Mew day indeed (watch this space!), we thought we should open up a super song poll. This time we want your top THREE non-album tracks; that is any track that did not feature on a standard international edition of any of Mew’s six studio albums to date. You can vote by replying to us on Facebook here or by posting a comment in reply to this article below. At the end of Mew day itself (15/6), we will count up the votes. For absolute clarity, we want you to vote for your favourite three of the following:


Animals of Many Kinds

Bones (Song for Albert)

Chinese Gun

City Voices

Count to Ten

Daddy Drone

Do You Love It?

Drinking Soda



Forever and Ever

Half the World Is Watching Me

In Time Do You Forget (Daydream)


Like Chaser

Like Paper Cuts



Nothing Is Red



Safe As Houses

Say You’re Sorry

Shiroi Kuchibiruno Izanai




Swimmer’s Chant

That Time on the Ledge

Watch This Space

Western Silver Lion Cub

Where Have All the Geysers Gone?

Wherefore Are You Not There?


The following Saturday (18/6) we will host a countdown of the top ten choices in a listening party in MewX’s very own chatroom. You’ll be able to find that via the community menu at the top of the page. Come and count to, or from, ten with us then!


London, England (December 14 & 15, 2015)


The future is elsewhere. As the “+-” album cycle is rounded off, The Village Underground, a collective of recycled spaces in a trendy part of London town, plays host to Mew’s parting gesture. In the course of this year, the constellation of the band has changed again. But these nights are about celebrating Mew as they are. In the course of the two shows, the band perform four times in two very different guises. On the Mew bus we pass through topsy-turvy terrain, and come to a stop. The band part ways with fans once more.

In 2010, old three-piece Mew gave way to the Lords of Destruction at venues in Copenhagen and Aarhus and signaled their retreat from our joint world into ones of their own. In 2015, new three-piece Mew give way to themselves. Acoustic Mew underline their electric counterparts. It’s an idea Johan Wohlert later jokes was sold to him when he saw Noel Gallagher do the same. But this is very Mew, and the two sides the band present of themselves reveal and enhance many of the often incongruent attributes they stand for. It’s also a chance for the band to air underplayed selections from their back catalogue.


As they creep onstage, dressed all in black and sheepish, on opening night, Jonas Bjerre mutters to his bandmates in understated apprehension. But the edginess in evidence stands in contrast to the fluidity of their first acoustic set. Jonas starts Start alone, keys and voice. A steely idea. Most of the audience haven’t heard this song before. It’s lucidly low key, so much so that when Symmetry succeeds it, its familiarity catches you off guard. It’s a deceptive one-two. Symmetry is often defeated by its own sentimentality, its own banal romanticism when performed amongst heavier, electric material, but here it feels warm and alive. It’s moments like this where Jonas’s flair for melodic writing is placed under the spotlight. Whereas their electric shows often carry so much overdriven volume as to pound you with full force into submission, the acoustic sets rely on their finer points. The deceptively contoured earworm melodies, and the earnest, if often obtuse, words filtered through Jonas’s unwavering voice are positioned front and centre. The shift in focus ensures acoustic Mew’s success.


On night two, a rendition of the now fan favourite stripped back version of Witness means they’re impelled to start their electric set with something different. There’s a long wait between Mew as support band and Mew as headline act. When the band finally reemerge they crash into My Complications without Bo Madsen’s inviting initial intro; it’s a full on assault without forewarning. The bombast of Mew’s electric live shows is evident in an instant. But it’s not bombast without merit. When Mew perform well, as they do here, the sonic-visual swirl captures the fearsome-loveable dichotomy which Mew’s music embodies. Water Slides is performed acoustically on night one; on night two, Johan’s warm root notes demonstrate the vitality of the song’s electric arrangement. And the unlikely but recently favoured pairing of Making Friends and Rows brings “+-” to life. In writing their latest album they wanted to design new songs for the stage. No More Stories… songs’ layer upon layer of keyboard parts and details in production were often a substitute for the core that Mew’s rhythm section supplies. On these songs, the live heart of Mew’s new music is fully realised.


Prior to these shows, Mew posted a poll on their website, asking frengers to choose five songs which they’d play. An unfamiliar, but wholly successful, acoustic Mica is contrasted with Behind The Drapes where winsome nostalgia distracts from any rustiness in execution. The most popular song from the poll, though, was unsurprising. Prior to Comforting Sounds, Jonas recalls being signed to Sony in London. It was a defining moment for the band, and something that still clearly means a lot to the band’s frontman. It felt apt, then, that in the middle of December, the fans’ most requested song, and the crowning moment of these evenings was She Came Home For Christmas.

The End To Be Continued


Text: Gustav Greijer
Photos: Ann Lancaster

Acoustic Setlist: Village Underground (Night One)
Start / Symmetry / That Time On The Ledge / Behind The Drapes / Water Slides / Why Are You Looking Grave?

Electric Setlist: Village Underground (Night One)
Witness / Satellites / Special / The Zookeeper’s Boy / Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy / Snow Brigade / She Spider / Medley / Making Friends / Rows / Am I Wry? No / 156. — She Came Home For Christmas, Comforting Sounds

Acoustic Setlist: Village Underground (Night Two)
Start / Symmetry / Mica / That Time On The Ledge / Witness / Why Are You Looking Grave?

Electric Setlist: Village Underground (Night Two)
My Complications / Special / The Zookeeper’s Boy / Satellites / Water Slides / Am I Wry? No / 156 / Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed / She Came Home For Christmas / Introducing Palace Players / Snow Brigade / She Spider — Making Friends / Rows — Comforting Sounds


A while ago, we launched a photo contest entitled “Fear Mew December”, where we asked you to send us photos which captured both Mew and winter. Entries came in thick and fast like sledges whizzing through some sort of fir tree wood at Christmas. Many included angels, many included recent shots of the band playing live and some stood out, like guiding stars in a heaven of Mew-related wintry snapshots. There followed a public poll to determine the very best of these chosen five photos, and at the end of the 17th of December, the votes were counted…

5th Place

In fifth place was @thoras75 (Instagram) with this, our favourite live photo from all those submitted. We particularly enjoyed the action shot of Johan’s hair (or his “Jonytail” as some people, not us, refer to it).


4th Place

In penultimate place amongst the five, this effort submitted by @koribubbles (Instagram) involved three people holding up signs which spelt the name of the contest they were entering. They clearly knew what they were doing.


3rd Place

Our favourite “angel” entry. This isn’t trick photography, @aliaghanima (Instagram) genuinely had dead angels frozen inside ice cubes. Poor, frozen, dead angels. nb: no real angels were harmed in the making of this photo.


2nd Place

This late entry from @zaramunch (Instagram) very much said “Mew” to us. Mew-like anthropomorphic animal figures are depicted within warmly wintry surroundings. Pass us some chestnuts!


1st Place

@annna965 (Twitter) gave us an unequivocal winner. The most popular entry amongst judges was also the most popular amongst voters. It’s timely, taking its panda person imagery from the recently released Making Friends video, and it looks cold out there.


Congrats to Anna, and thanks to all of you who entered the competition, as well as those who voted. We wish you all, and everyone else who did neither of these things (to a slightly lesser extent), a Mewry Xmas and a Happy Mew Year!



With the last twelfth of 2015 nearly upon us, we’re offering you the chance to win some ultra rare, and therefore undeniably valuable, Mew goodies. Over the years our favourite threesome have developed a link with winter. Song titles such as Snow Brigade, Snowflake and Saviours of Jazz Ballet (Fear Me December) and lyrics like “from your voice I fashion a snow sled”, “you are just like an avalanche, cold as I might have guessed”, and “fear me December” have tied the band to the year’s coldest season. This, coupled with Mew’s obvious icy coolness and the fact that the band are from a fairly cold place in the world, has given us an idea. We’re launching a photo competition which could end with you owning some very limited CD promos as well as your photo appearing on this very site. Don’t you just love good prizes?

(This) Competition Rules (!)

In order to enter this competition you need to upload a photograph to the Internet, which is allowed to be digitally altered if you like. It should say two things to us: “Mew” and “Winter”!

  • Where to post your photo: your personal Twitter or Instagram account, remembering not to have your posts set to private.
  • What to include in your post: the photograph, the hashtag #FearMewDecember and @mewxinfo (mewxinfo is this site’s handle on both Twitter and Instagram…follow us!)
  • When to post your photo: anytime before Monday the 7th of December 2015 (Central European Time)

What Will Happen Next

Five (5) of the entries will be selected by a select panel of Super Frengers/Internet people and will be uploaded to MewX, after which there’ll be a public vote for the best of those five entries. Details of that vote will follow after the closing date (7th December 2015).

Note: by entering this competition you agree to your photo being posted to and/or being used or posted via this website’s official social media accounts. We will include a photo credit where possible. Happy snapping!



As Mew Day (15/6) celebrations continue in full force (!), we bring you a full breakdown of the results of our big song poll. Alongside the results, we have a detailed mass of statistics for your perusal. Listen to the top twenty while you read! A Spotify playlist can be found at the bottom of the article and here.

On the 27th of May, a month on from +-, we opened up a big, bumper song poll to voters both from this website and the Frengers group on Facebook. We decided to conduct it in a way which would both give voters, who largely seem to know Mew’s back catalogue like the back of their hands, the chance to select more than one favourite, and which would keep the poll secret. This allowed the reveal to come as a surprise to those who participated, and, at least in intention, would minimize tactical voting. 59 voters selected their top ten Mew songs; their number one choice received ten points, their number two nine, their number three eight and so on, with their tenth placed selection receiving one point. They also contributed their least favourite Mew tune ever; this didn’t affect the top songs, but instead comprised its own poll. We thought it’d be interesting to see if there was much correlation between both people’s favourites and their least favourites amongst the 95 songs they could pick from. The results of both polls were revealed on Saturday in a live “listening party” in MewX’s own chat room.

Without further delay, here are the top twenty:

20. Wherever (54 Points)
19. A Dark Design (58 Points)
18. Chinaberry Tree (59 Points)
17. Clinging To A Bad Dream (61 Points)
16. Behind The Drapes (62 Points)
15. Hawaii (68 Points)
14. She Came Home For Christmas (69 points)
13. Snow Brigade (70 Points)
11=. Silas The Magic Car (72 Points)
11=. White Lips Kissed (72 Points)
10. Cartoons and Macramé Wounds (77 Points)
9. Special (96 Points)
8. Apocalypso (105 Points)
7. Louise Louisa (131 Points)
6. The Zookeeper’s Boy (145 Points)
5. Introducing Palace Players (147 Points)
4. 156 (150 Points)
3. Am I Wry? No (166 Points)
2. Rows (229 Points)
1. Comforting Sounds (247 Points)

74 of the 95 possible choices received at least one point. Here’s a breakdown of the top 20 by album:

A Triumph For Man (2/20)
Half The World Is Watching Me (3/20)
Frengers (6/20, including ATFM and HTWIWM tracks)
And The Glass-Handed Kites (7/20)
No More Stories… (4/20)
+- (2/20)

And the overall points totals for each album in descending order:

And The Glass Handed Kites (865)
Frengers (859)
Half The World Is Watching Me (623)
No More Stories… (556)
+- (420)
A Triumph For Man (307)

A clear arc, peaking at Kites, seems to emerge in the chronology of Mew’s discography. The highest charting non-album track was That Time On The Ledge at 23, which formed a double A-side with She Came Home For Christmas. The top B-side proper was Like Paper Cuts at 33.

The least favourite poll revealed little in the way of consistency. 32 different songs were awarded “worst Mew song ever” by the 59 voters. Here are the songs which received more than one vote:

I Should Have Been a Tsin-Tsi (For You) (7)
How Things Turn Out to Be (5)
Do You Love It? (4)
Saliva (3)
Symmetry (3)
Ending (2)
Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years (2)
Intermezzo 1 (2)
The Night Believer (2)
No Shadow Kick (2)
Owl (2)
Pink Monster (2)
Repeaterbeater (2)
Water Slides (2)

The full list, with their respective point totals, is available here.

Agnes generously provided some ultra-in depth statistics, as well as adjudicating the calculation of the votes. Enjoy!



This is a histogram of all votes given to each song. What does it tell us? Generally, most songs got few votes (or none, coloured grey). But more than half of us do agree on a small portion of songs. Comforting Sounds, for example, was chosen by 34/59 voters (58%).

Does it matter if the song was a single?

Yes, at least songs which were singles generally got a higher score. It should be noted that there are many more non-singles than singles. Anyway, either we are easily impressionable by singles or Mew’s singles are just amongst their best songs.

Is a good Mew song long or short?


Long! We dislike very short songs and love really long songs. Songs in the middle region are sometimes good, sometimes not. But if a song is in the middle region and a single (coloured red), then we love them!

Percentage of first place votes that songs in the top 20 got


No first places for She Came Home for Christmas or Wherever, but enough people sort of like them.

Which songs are in the top 20?


This is a decision tree. At each node in the tree the algorithm chooses the best variable to split on to separate the classes: In the top 20 (1) and not in the top 20 (0). It splits on the song length first – we love long songs! (It ends up to the right with most songs in top 20, seen as dark grey). It then, for the short songs, splits on whether or not the song was on Eggs Are Funny. If it wasn’t then we don’t like it and if it was then we can’t decide. We like about half of them. Anyway, again we love long songs and dislike short songs that did not appear on Eggs Are Funny.

Happy Mew Day!

Thanks for voting. We’ll have another listening party for the upcoming tenth anniversary of Kites, which according to voters’ favourite songs is the most popular Mew album amongst their biggest fans.

Related Links:
Spreadsheet detailing Frengers’ votes
Spotify playlist:

Vote Calculation and Words: Gustav Greijer
All Plots/Graphs/Charts (and related words): Agnes M Nielsen


Paris, France (May 22, 2015)


Over the course of my day and a half stay across The Channel in Paris, I’m never exactly sure where I am. I mean, I know what I’m next to, and our phones tell us how to get to the next thing we want to be next to, but my knowledge of the layout of the city is lacking. It looks compact on a map, and the places I arrive at seem to duplicate and then triplicate; along the route of the Seine, which we largely seem to be following, it’s as if Kensington, London has been copied and pasted everywhere. The city’s 19th century opulence fuses with modern consumer culture. While the world’s number one tourist city brings in visitors from all directions, the foundation it lays for them seems quite uniform next to other neoliberal, first world cityscapes.

Following touristy instincts, we go to the Louvre, but the queue looks so long that we’d have to whiz around the place before whisking ourselves off again to the Mew show, which is, after all, our primary raison d’être here. We compromise and settle on the D’Orsay instead, third in popularity among Paris museums, but first in quality according to some who appear to be in the know. Which brings this review of a Mew show on to the Mew show it is a review of. We go east, taking two Metro trains, and come up at Gambetta. It looks like we’ve not gone anywhere at all and the whole journey was a con, but the road ahead becomes grottier. And then we’re met with a wall of graffiti, and what looks like a pub front fenced in by metal bars, like some sort of pen for drunkards. It feels immediately surreal; I’ve only travelled across a narrow strip of sea, and all at once it strikes me that publicity for Mew has got a bit lost in transit. It feels like a Mew ghost town, that the vibrancy of London’s Roundhouse, where we had been only two days prior has vanished into thin air. The venue’s name, The Golden Arrow, is a bold statement.


The capacity here might be three hundred at a push, but it’s only half full. The stage is too small for the new light show, and we’re so close we can inspect the set list and the pedal boards as soon as they’re arranged onstage. After Making Friends’ synth cadence announces Silas Graae’s arrival for his and Johan Wohlert’s lurching intro to Witness, Johan’s bass amp is so loud I immediately back away from the stage and arc round the back of the crowd. The sound is better there, but so much chatter pervades the atmosphere that it’s hard to find the right balance between avoiding being among indifferent attendees, and finding a quality of sound which befits a Mew concert.

While a skeleton of their routine repertoire remains, tonight’s set list offers a couple of chances for experimentation. It’s a “drop off and go” gig, a whistle stop show, and there aren’t so many people here; any belly flopping will only linger in the minds of a select few. While the overpowering velocity of Mew shows usually means you can’t hear much, if any, detail in their playing, the volume restrictions tonight mean every nuance is distinct. When I’m down front I can hear unamplified guitars being tuned between songs. The intimacy, both in the size of the crowd and in the relative quiet of performance, is made even more unusual by the dichromatic light accompaniment. In many ways it feels like a rehearsal in a dilapidated pub disguised as a music venue. You can call it special, and by Frengers I speak to after the show its specialness is treasured, but I feel a bit torn. It’s totally unlike any Mew show I’ve been to before, and it’s my first time seeing them play a headline show outside of the UK. Those novelties give it a novel air, but the unusualness is also partly reflective of a band finding their feet in relatively uncharted territories.

The set is scattershot; golden oldies stride among the evening’s whims. A live premiere of the album version of Making Friends is somewhat disjointed and falls straight into Introducing Palace Players, which is performed for the first time without its extended, bitonally discordant intro. The fact that it hasn’t been played in any form in six years is made all the more surprising by being one of the most enthusiastically received songs of the night. A crystalline rendition of Special has the crowd at its liveliest. And, as the set list had warned us, Coffee Break draws the set to a close. While Coffee Break had been the show opener in the Nordic winter tour last year, the irony of a band starting shows with the final song from their now antique first album is lost, and the effect is probably not all that different to that it would have had nearly two decades ago. Comforting Sounds doesn’t end most of their shows for nothing, that becomes clear; there’s an inescapable resolution that their signature piece brings to live shows. Its tipped-to-be natural successor, Rows, which incidentally is so-called because it began its life as an instrumental composition, one which the band viewed as “rows of ideas”, isn’t being played yet, although it might feature later in the tour. I’m left wondering how much more I’d gain from these performances if they threw much more at me that was new. A Mew show is always to be savoured for myriad reasons, but after hearing live outings of these songs so many times, my reasons for enjoyment become less the songs themselves.

After the show there’s a big conglomeration of Frengers on the street outside, and the band are wandering around. Therein lies an enhancer of the experience. When the community of fans gathers around Mew’s live appearances, there’s an energy, a positivity that seems to spread. Mew do their job, and they do it invariably well, but their fanbase adds an extra dimension. Making a direct connection with otherwise distant entities brings out a personality to the shows themselves, even when the monolithic strand of songs which the band never seem to tire of remains the same. We linger near the venue until 2 AM, until the last Frengers have drifted off in their own directions, and we begin to head homeward.

As we walk towards the other side of Paris, towards our morning departure, we hone in on the buzz from the show and the human paraphernalia that complemented it. We arc around L’Arc De Triomphe, and fall asleep at the bus station.


Text: Gustav Greijer
Photos: Harald Hjerting
Photo Gallery

Setlist: La Flèche d’Or
Witness / Satellites / The Night Believer / Beach / Silas The Magic Car / Making Friends / Introducing Palace Players / My Complications / Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed / Am I Wry? No / 156 / Apocalypso / Saviours of Jazz Ballet / Medley (Clinging To A Bad Dream / The Zookeeper’s Boy / Louise, Louisa) —– / Special / The Zookeeper’s Boy / Coffee Break



Waiting for a new Mew album is like waiting for a bus: One will come along eventually. Today, two thousand and seventy-nine days on from No More Stories…, the Mew bus has finally pulled up at the bus stop of Frengerdom; as always, it’s unavoidably boardable.

In their review of the three-piece Mew’s first and final statement, and Mew’s previous long-player, Danish magazine Soundvenue ventured that “Mew exist in a sphere all of their own”; on “+-“, every song feels like it exists in its own universe, every moment lit by its own spotlight. The result is an album that feels painstakingly picked apart and put back together, each track exhibiting another side of Mew’s beguilingly multi-faceted personality. On first glance, it may seem lacking in the band’s typical album-long consistency and cohesion, but when you’re met with another glorious moment almost all the way, that concession feels well judged.

It’s also the work of a band whose wisdom of years is of its utmost clarity. The label “prog” has been pinned to Mew pretty much since their inception, but it’s never sat all that comfortably with the band. “We want to push the boundaries of pop music,” Bo Madsen was quoted as saying a whole decade ago now, prior to the release of Mew’s most overtly progressive effort, indeed their only record to date where that so maligned term seems at times to really fit the music, And The Glass-Handed Kites. On “+-“, Mew’s pop ambitions are clearer than ever before. Largely gone are the scatterbrained time-signature shifts, but instead of being zapped of energy or interest, the songs feel gleamingly streamlined as a result. And when you get a triple shot of pop in the forms of My Complications, Water Slides and Interview The Girls, Rows rises out of the ground, a brooding Burj Khalifa which engulfs you and wraps you up in Mew’s undiluted vision; it’s a moment where Mew assemble like the Megazord in the original series of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, or like The Avengers in that film, to remind you just how good the four of them sound together.

Music critics assemble!

“What we find from Mew in 2015 is the most complete expression of their many facets ever to have been committed to tape for a single album. If you like Mew, you’ll like this.” – Haydon Spenceley, Drowned In Sound

“The album is, in the classic Mew approach, layered and utterly symphonic, as well as being thoroughly varied.” – Christian Erin-Madsen, GAFFA

“Mew have crafted one of 2015’s finest collections to date. A triumphant return which is unlikely to be bettered this year.” – Dom Gourlay,

“A meticulously crafted, consistently melodic and frequently beautiful work from an excellent band.” – Christopher Monk, Music OMH

“The sixth LP from the Danish quartet…feels like throwing open a window.” – Simon Price, Q Magazine

Your Record Collection + “+-“

So you want to grab hold of the album… Hyunji Choi and M/M Paris’s artwork looks surprisingly beautiful in its glossy flesh, both in its hard-bound book-cum-two-CD edition, where a recording from Mew’s show in Copenhagen last year serves as the band’s best live statement to date and a valuable addendum to the album, and in its big, bold double-vinyl version. Or if you don’t bother with those pompous physical formats (!), consider throwing a couple of coins at the band to download it. This is a record sculpted by an artist under their own steam and it more than merits your reward.

“+-” may form the bulk of what we’ll hear from Mew for a while, but when you’ve got this much this good to hear, you’ll be more than satisfied waiting by our bus stop for the next album to come along. Lemon truth.

Read our official album review for “+-” here.

Text: Gustav Greijer
Image collage: Ann Lancaster


Read the first part of this 2-part article.


Back to Satellites, and, since Johan Wohlert’s return, it’s taken on a new lease of life. Over its six-minute duration the band have managed to combine the immediately memorable chorus, great dynamic and structural shifts, and space for every band member to take centre stage in its arrangement. During a slow buildup, an unusual, dreamy harp timbre gives misleading impressions of the epic-scale rock that is soon to follow: a wall of Bo Madsen guitars soon accompanies its second verse, Johan’s stuttering bassline comes more to the fore in the last verse and Silas Graae unloads some of his familiar frenetic fills in the coda after the final chorus. The step-up key change between the verses and the chorus (from A to B), provides extra oomph, and underlines the song’s central hook, while the finely balanced arrangement has, together with clusters of swirling backing vocals, taken on extra-musical details: the sound of beams (of a far-off satellite perhaps), and bubbling water (where someone might have been swimming fast) bring the song to a delicate close. Like the album cover it feels like a mosaic, but one of all things Mew coming together to form one of their boldest, most immediate songs yet.

The immediacy of that Klassen chorus is reflective of much of the album. As Silas said at Provinssirock, “[the album] will contain a lot of pop songs…it’s got some big, huge, heavy songs [on it],” while Bo mentioned during the previously referred-to Facebook Q&A, which had been held in promotion of Sensory Spaces, that there’ll be “less counting (time signature changing)” but hinted at some compensation for this when he alluded to the band’s new explorations of key changes in a recent social media update. And, though direct pop songwriting seems to have been a key aim for this record, Jonas Bjerre told Malaysian radio show, Wavelength, “our song-structures [can be] a bit weird…and it does feel like little journeys sometimes…and there’s a lot of that on the album as well”. Judging by some of the track lengths, that’s not an understatement; Rows clocks in at just shy of 11 minutes, and will be their longest ever song, and 5 of the 10 tracks last more than 6 minutes.

The songs they’ve played live often have their big moments, but retain a colourful diversity. Water Slides might be considered Mew’s third proper foray into electronic production (after Mica and Tricks Of The Trade), but when the band chime in collectively for the chorus, it’s a chorus that instantly forms a tight grip around the listener’s consciousness; My Complications (previously Russle), is driven by dueling, and strikingly different, guitar parts by Bo and Bloc Party guitarist Russell Lissack; Witness is propulsively raw, Jonas’s surprising, post-punk-esque baritone verse vocal giving way to a falsetto-led chorus which aims skyward; and Cross The River On Your Own is soft, wistful meandering in 3/4 time, which will fill the customary Mew mould for effective, curtain-drawing album-closers.

Boy, a song they debuted live at the same shows as Satellites, will feature “in some form”, although whether that means that just a single strand of the song (Bo’s funky guitar line perhaps) will have made the cut, or a bigger chunk of it, is unclear; looking at the tracklisting, though, it might make sense if it were part of The Night Believer or Interview The Girls. Meanwhile, Clinging to A Bad Dream, part of which has racked up a good number of live outings in a medley with The Zookeeper’s Boy and The Seething Rain Weeps For You, features Bo and Silas “going nuts” according to a previous article on MewX; that medley was first heard performed by Icelandic female choir, Lyrika, in promoting the Nordic Ja Ja Ja festival in London in 2013, and, considering its title was displayed on setlists for a while as Koor (an approximation of “choir” in Danish), it might feature some form of choir-involvement.

Familiar figure behind the keys at live shows, the good Doctor Watts, has been afforded greater involvement in the creative process this time around, and it will be interesting to hear what his personal touch will have brought to the table. Longtime Frenger, and New Zealand singer-songwriter, Kimbra, will feature on one track, although which one that is, is yet unknown. And what will Damon Tutunjian, who, from producing A Triumph For Man to playing bass on Introducing Palace Players, has had some part to play in every Mew album so far, be up to this time? Frengers and No More Stories producer/mixing engineer Rich Costey was again assigned his duties behind the mixing desk. With a CV of mixing credits for anthemic rock outfits (Foo Fighters, Muse et al), he’s someone who can transform crescendos to takeoffs, and choruses to explosions; that “big”ness and “heavy”ness which Silas alluded to should have come to full fruition.

Mew are crossing the globe in March, with shows at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and T-Festival in Taiwan, before embarking on a relatively brief European tour in May. They’ve been working with a German company on a new live show to accompany performances of songs from the new album. “We definitely hope to do something really great with that in time for the tour”, Jonas told UK radio station XFM, whose evening show made Satellites their “record of the week”; enigmatically, though, he wouldn’t be drawn on any details as to what exactly “that” is.

Promotion has started promisingly with Play It Again Sam (PIAS), whose roster includes the artist Mew have cited as their collective favourite, The Pixies (under whose management, Key Music Ltd, they also fall), distributing the album in the US, the UK and presumably many of the other territories where distribution was previously managed by Sony. Alongside the exposure on XFM, they’ll be doing various things on the radio across the Nordic region in the coming weeks, and a video for Satellites will arrive within days. They’ve been allowed to make a record under their own steam, promotion is picking up speed, and they’re in league with their idols: all of that should mean a lot to the band.

Nearly six years on from No More Stories, our favoured foursome will finally release their 6th studio album. Whether such a long wait for some more stories will be worth it, will take the next few months to say; to realise the full picture of their production may take 27 April in a day. But this Frenger couldn’t be more excited. “We feel like we’re ready to conquer the world again,” Johan told P6 Beat after his big reveal at NorthSide. We’re ready and waiting to be reconquered.

Text: Gus Greijer
Photo: Mew

Satellites Credits:
Lead vocals, choir – Jonas Bjerre
Electric guitar, choir – Bo Madsen
Drums, shakers, congas, tambourine – Silas Graae
Electric bass, guitars – Johan Wohlert
Keyboards – Nick Watts
Saxophone – Jakob Dinesen
Additional choir – Ella Moreno Risell, Carla Emma Berg Bisaballe, Liva Katrine Vincent Bonnesen, Sarah E. Sejer Solow, Sasha Ryabina

Producer: Michael Beinhorn
Mixing: Rich Costey
Composer, lyrics: Mew



Towards the end of 2010, it felt like Mew were signing off. Having fulfilled their reported four-album contract with Sony, following the release of Eggs Are Funny, they wrapped up the year, and a phase in their career, with a couple of shows on home soil. These were special shows; in theatres in Copenhagen and Aarhus to seated audiences, they manifested career-encompassing setlists with songs such as Snowflake and Symmetry which hadn’t often, or recently, been aired live. Mew’s enigmatic counterparts, Lords of Destruction, took to the stage for the encore and took a figurative bow on their behalf. The Mew world was deconstructed, temporarily.

Jonas Bjerre, Bo Madsen and Silas Graae went on hiatus for a year, engaging in other projects and courses (painting for Silas, filmmaking for Bo, while Jonas kept himself busy with multifarious endeavours, both musical and photographic). And some of these eternally youthful-looking chaps now have “children, houses, and family-friendly cars”, according to a recent article by a fly-on-the-wall journalist. There were clearly other concerns with which they wanted to occupy themselves, while taking a respite from their musical machine which had been whirring on, at times very intensely, for 15 years.

In the introductory phase of the writing and recording of No More Stories, the three-piece Mew spent a few days at a summer house in the south of France. In early 2012, it was a manor on the Italian island of Sicily to which they took their routine sojourn. Warmer climes away from their usual surroundings, it seems, can help kick start their creative process and serve as a catalyst for the rediscovery of the band’s chemistry in the exclusivity of each other’s company. Judging from the video diary they released following the trip, though, their musical toolkit had been modest. A laptop, a couple of guitars, and a pair of bongos (no drum kit in sight) might allow skeletal sketches for songs or fragments of melodic material to form, but Mew’s technicolour soundscapes usually require a lot more than that. When I See Tomorrow is evidence of that: a neatly constructed vocal melody and sparse guitar broken chords do not a Mew masterpiece make, however pleasing on the ear it might have been.

Satellites (née Klassen) felt like it might have arisen from such arrangements when it was debuted during a live dress rehearsal for their Roskilde headline slot, in front of a Copenhagen crowd at Bremen Teater. “We’re going to play a new song, even though it’s not quite finished”, Bo warned a large, captivated Roskilde audience when the aforementioned song closed one of their biggest, and on a personal level for the band, most significant shows in their history. It was sparsely and repetitively arranged, but quite how “unfinished” it would turn out to have been was unclear, and tells the story of the journey of a Mew composition from draft form to completed lead single.

In June 2014, at NorthSide festival in Aarhus, Mew had somewhat of a surprise in store. Unbeknownst to most, although suspicions may have been raised by the fact that, while the band were publicising the recording process quite regularly on social media, there was a noticeable absence of photos, or any mention, of bass guitars. Entering the NorthSide stage as a three-piece, Jonas came forward to the mic, but instead of the band bursting into song, he announced exuberantly “we’d like to welcome back an old friend, and one who hasn’t been with us for far too long: our old bassist Johan Wohlert”. Mew were officially a four-piece again, although, as it transpired, they had been working together as such in the studio for over a year prior, when they were halfway into the writing process.

As well as being an obvious career choice for Captain Woolheart, whose musical project The Storm with Pernille Rosendahl was now on hold (perhaps indefinitely), his return had been an ultimatum of producer Michael Beinhorn who had previously overseen Kites (or as Silas put it on Facebook “helped us raise our kites in the air”) and is known for having a strong work ethic, and extremely strong demands of artists (to the point of developing a peculiar reputation as a firer of drummers). It was also this attitude which drew the band to Beinhorn; he wanted to make “the best album possible”, Jonas related during a Facebook Q&A while Silas reassured fans that “he’s been as soft as a kid [to him].”

Mew’s freedom from corporate controllership (Sony) means they have much more licence to pick and choose their collaborators. Bang and Olufsen, under the banner of their new digital branch, B&O Play, was one of these. The iOS app they co-authored with the band, Sensory Spaces, contained, alongside a novelty in challenging the user to point their device towards sound sources and explore the layers of short bursts of new Mew music, a preview of Making Friends. In November 2013, version 1 of the song was released as a free download. In the place of reverb-laden major seventh chord guitar segues, which had featured in the version they had been playing live, there was a rather clunky “false chorus” (something about answer[ing] to skulls and knock[ing] off bells from carousels). But the lyrics otherwise found Jonas in pensive, and occasionally paternalistic mood. It’s a song about wanting a sense of worldliness where there is none (on this street, no one looks at the sky), but not wanting to miss out on what’s right in front of you (what if we get numb, searching for things to discover?) and fostering someone close to you who shares those philosophies (inside I looked at you, you were there making friends, wear a hat, I’ll miss you).

As Bo mentioned at Provinssirock in Finland, “we’re trying to use as much as of our emotional sensibilities and a little bit less of our brains, and I think that reflects in the lyrics as well.” Making Friends will feature on the record, but has changed a lot since then; it might be the case that as Johan became more involved in the songwriting, pieces they’d written prior to his involvement have been forced in new directions. Making Friends (13) was accompanied by artwork designed in part by Frenger and MewX contributor, Hyunji Choi. It depicted the three band members in funny egg-form, being connected by electrical wires with positive (+) and negative (-) terminals; it was a grey, ugly logo. When Johan rejoined, they revealed an updated version of the logo. This time the logo was vibrant and full of colour. The suggestion was that the circuit was complete, that as a four-piece electricity was free to flow through them, that the lights (colours) of the logo could come on.

+- is the title of the album and one of the implications is of that intrinsic connection between the four friends. It might also reflect any other kind of plusses and minuses, ups and downs, gives and takes etc, and that’s why it’s a great title. It’s at once simple, universal, and personal to the band. Hyunji Choi’s logo features on the album cover which was otherwise designed by regular artwork designers M/M Paris. At first it looks like a rushed Photoshop collage of paintsplattered plates with matchsticks outlining the band name and album title alongside the egg-design, but the more you take it in, the more it resembles a mosaic of unerringly placed tiles which will fit the album well.

Read Part II here.

Text: Gus Greijer
Photo: Paul Heartfeld