Mew - VIsuals
Mew are one of those bands who should be so much bigger than they are. Their music is an expansive take on Alternative Rock and Pop often somewhat weird but always meticulously well done. This new album Visuals falls much more on the pop side of things, but with Mew's very distinct way of sussing out just what is needed for a song to be what they want it to be. Visuals really tries hard to give this lighter feel to their music, but at the same time maintain this kind of creepy edge. "Candy Pieces All Smeared Out" has a really sweet vocal but then there are times where the music shifts into this dark almost ominous sound, something that is very Mew. You would not expect a somewhat dour song like "In A Better Place" which goes from roaring synths to jazz trumpet at the end, to be on a "pop" record, but for Mew it works. There is far less of the Muse type anthemic powerhouse songs on Visuals and instead there seem to be more personally connected songs. "Ay Ay Ay" closes on the line "Your parents are lethal" repeated over and over again sung sweetly but still just as cutting. Visuals also has so much interesting music going on, with layer upon layer of these really lush sounds filling every bit of space.
Listening to this record it is hard to believe that Mew have been around for 22 years. The album is so youthful and hopeful, less about craft and more about trying something new. A band at this point in their career should be resting on the laurels, trying to replicate former glories or just do what they do extremely well over and over again. There is just none of that on this record, these are not guys plying their trade and hammering a check these are guys that are really trying to do something with their music and are open to whatever that may mean for their sound. Towards the end of the album however the slow approach on songs like "Shoulders" feels a bit to lethargic. The record really feels like Mew's version of electropop, bright on one hand but icy and distant on the other. It is an extremely well done album, but suffers from what Mew have always suffered from, that final punch that will really set them on fire. The hint it may be coming throughout the album, but in the end they never seem to really hit the bullseye. Visuals is another solid album from a solid band, that no one will listen too.
7.5 out of 10