Aug 24, 2009 - Daytrotter Studio, Rock Island, IL
- 1 New Terrain / The Zookeeper's Boy
- 2 Special
Hazy Mountains Of Dreams For Active Participants
Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The full title of Mew's upcoming new record could fill three mouths. It comes from the lyrics of their song "Hawaii Dream," eight tracks into the new sequence and it is thus, "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." Their record company sent, via the United Postal Service carrier, a thin, children's book-length, hardcover book along with the promotional copy of the album. The book has a dust jacket with a biographical blurb about the band and the album, but the actual pages of the book are blindingly white, empty of any words, graphics or blemishes. The Danish band's lead singer Jonas Bjerre mentioned that he's given up on "being impressed by stories" and advises that you're better off going out to "become part of the world and make your own stories." It explains the title of the record and it explains the book, but it doesn't explain really taking such a stance against stories, sometimes all that most people have to live for - some exaggeration or a faded mixture of personal history and concocted, fictional bluster that gets harder and harder to refute as the years flip by, a la James Frey. It's easy to get through with stories. Coping is simplified when we can recite a story about the transportation of the nation's bee population based on the season, citing a friend in the business as if it the details were meant to wow people at dinner parties and picnics. We can tell about our athletic or alcoholic exploits or the silly things that we think about in the dark or in the state of inebriation - making some of our best stories during those times. Stories are our crutches and canes and Bjerre knows this, even when he's battering their good names while tar and feathering them properly. They shouldn't be executed - beheaded or strangled - but they should be minded the way that Mew minds them in its own way: by not considering them stories at all, but the real stuff that we put on our bones to fill out our clothing, to give our shoes something to fit over and our stocking hats something to keep warm in the snows. So much of what makes Mew so enchanting and sweeping is the amount of inspiration that obviously is drawn from the recesses of the hazy mountains of dreams that they've collectively netted over time. Bjerre lets his references go to those speckled places that seem at the time so life-like and yet bear only abstract consistency to that which has actually transpired. He gives himself over to foggy tributes to those "sleepless" nights when the mind has actually been everywhere and back, running new plotlines with bizarre and unpredictable set, costume and personnel changes at every glance. On "No More Stories…" Mew is back making its flinty and spacious rock and roll that's like unraveling a black carpet with blotches of red dotting it for the ceremonial bursts - though the red's blood, from the broken and the deaths that are never lasting when the morning comes. They're movie deaths, so no deaths at all. There are the characters who are represented in chorus, with others speaking on their behalf, "They all say they long to reach their sorrows now," and they sound as if they're achieving something spectacular. There's a warmth splattered in "New Terrain," the effects of the young and the seasick, crashing every time they're behind the wheel that operates their parts. We're regularly bowled over by the heartbreaking beauty that the band puts into its weariness, or at least in how it presents it. These are the birds with the broken wings, but they're birds that can just sleep it off as the "game over" sign wears off like chalk in the rain. These are the hexes and the shit storms that only serve to give perspective, to allow joy and sorrow, or fulfilled/unfulfilled experience their definitions and not just their aliases. The stories are made livable, even in their vanished state as that's the terrain that enriches.
Mew Official Site