Danish experimental dream-pop trio Mew returns with No More Stories…, a towering, masterpiece and follow-up to the critically acclaimed And The Glass Handed Kites. The band talks about making the amlbum and their warmer new sound.
On their 5th album, Mew pushes their artfully weird and epic sound into a warm accessible collection of songs with more stuck-in-your-head hooks than words in it’s extensive album title. The complete 23-word name comes from the lyrics of track ‘Hawaii Dream’.
“No more stories
Are told today
They washed away
No more stories
The world is grey
Let’s wash away”
“Yeah the title sounds pretty bleak,” admits singer Jonas Bjerre, 32. “It comes from having watched a lot of TV when I was a kid. I feel like I’ve been told so many stories in my life I don’t need to hear anymore, so I’ve kind of given up being impressed by stories. But the cover art is really happy and colorful and it shows the positive side – which is to go out, become part of the world and make your own stories.
Like its 2006 predecessor And The Glass Handed Kites – which Pitchfork described as “a masterpiece for people who haven’t smoked weed yet but are thinking about it” and “as magnificent as they’re hoping to be” – No More Stories… demands attention. “You try to make every song stand out from the others,” guitarist Bo Madsen, 33 says. “At the same time, the songs work together because the gene material is basically the same,”
“We tried to give each song as much personality as possible,” Bo added. “If you view each song as a little human, allowing them to each develop their own personality, I think you have a good chance of getting a diverse and colorful record.”
Producer Rich Costey (Franz Ferdinand, Glasvegas, and NIN) helped the band invent the album’s soundscape, which they fleshed out with eccentric samples (like a spoon hitting a wooden table) and vintage instruments (a 1950s marxophone and wooden blocks of marimba).
Written and recorded in Brooklyn mostly but also in Copenhagen and the south of France, No More Stories… radiates warmth, thanks to loads of percussion, handclaps and choral vocals. Tracks like ‘Hawaii’ and ‘Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy’ sound like they were recorded in a farmhouse around a fire – all very different than the more guitar-driven Kites, which was written when it was, as Jonas puts it, “pretty cold.”
The warped and woozy opener ‘New Terrain’ sets the tone. Segments were recorded backwards giving the track a disorienting push-and-pull that mirrors the lyrics (“We should not lose terrain / Wild and young, we got seasick / On your seven soft sheets”).
With cool syncopated drums and odd-killer guitars, the second track ‘Introducing The Palace Players’ announces their trial-by-fire rebirth with a distinct, jubilant (and uncharacteristic) funkiness. “Well, not James Brown funky,” Jonas says, “our own version of funky, like when a beat is purposefully sloppy or a part is kind of swingy.”
On previous disc, Mew enlisted guest stars to record duets – Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, Swedish singer Stina Nordenstamm and an unknown American teen named Becky Jarrett. For No More Stories… they went back to their old school and asked the kids choir to sing the chorus and the 88-year-old avant-garde Danish singer Mari Helgerlikova on ‘Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy’.
Mew’s No More Stories is out now on Sony Music.