Mew – Plus Minus | Album review

Although it has taken them six years to release a new album, Mew were far from being dormant meanwhile. During this time they have honoured their frengers (the word, a sophisticated mashup between ‘friends’ and ‘strangers’, served as the title of a previous record and is now employed by the band to refer to its fans) with little giveaways like tracks previews, a compilation record and even an app. After enticing their followers with such treats, the Danish indie-rock ensemble eventually pulled out its latest effort around a month ago.

Named + –, the new LP sounds like an average work by Mew and not too different from their last. There’s no surprise factor as the musical direction is still heading back to the band’s signature vibes and atmospheres, geared towards a pop-rock sound which heavily relies on echoed, mellow melodies and on Bjerre’s dreamy vocals.
It’s a pleasant listen from beginning to end, a ship that smoothly sails from a harbour to another until its final destination.

The record, however, is more than a mere collection of all-equally-tuned songs. The opener, Satellites, chosen as the first single, is a catchy track characterised by a building-up structure, starting off quietly but rapidly increasing its rhythm.
Distorted guitar riffs and keyboards predominate here, overlapped by Bjerre’s high-pitched yet sweet vocals and intertwined with up-tempo beats. Like in every other song, all the components are wisely mixed and never redundant.

The Night Believer is another feel-good track and features vocal parts by the New Zealand singer Kimbra, who also lent her voice to two more songs. Making Friends, instead, has a more funky yet chilled groove. Clinging To A Bad Dream’s peculiarity is the slightly alienating harmony reverberating in between the main melodies, reminiscent of the famous electronic song Born Slippy by Underworld.

Another song which needs a special mention is Witness, with its heavier, insistent percussion patterns and gloomier mood and vocals. Rows also stands out for being a nearly eleven minutes-long track which is anything but tedious. My Complications sees the contribution of Bloc Party’s guitarist Russell Lissack, and is a fast-paced track whose sound differs a bit from the rest of the album’s repertoire.

All Mew songs are little works of art which are very independent and interesting in their own right even if they all share the band’s trademark sound. + – is a thoroughly enjoyable record and if that wasn’t enough, the comeback of bassist Johan Wohlert makes it even more worthy of a spin.

Verdict: •••

+ – was released on 27th April, for more information about Mew and upcoming shows click here.

Watch the official video for Satellites:

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