By Kristie Sparksman
VANCOUVER — Rediscovering Mew is like finding a $50 bill crumpled up in the inner pocket of a Board Dökter jacket that has been collecting dust in your closet. Yeah, they’ve been around for that long. Despite slipping in and out of the radar since 1994, the dreamy Danish dudes have blazed back into the spotlight with their first record in six years. Spoiler alert: they’ve got a headlock on what it means to be progressive and pop, and despite retiring a member (Bo Madsen) and reviving a member (Johan Wohlert), they sound like the same Mew, but a well-rested version.
“We do tend to disappear for a number of years between each album,” lead singer Jonas Bjerre admits, laughing. “It’s like hibernation in a way. We learned a lot about what we’re good at, and maybe what we’re not so good at.” While clearly the band is better at showcasing what they are good at, they are also great at adapting, as they were forced to make some hard choices in the interest of furthering the band. While on hiatus in 2013, the boys made the bold decision to drop Sony as their label, choosing the independent route instead. A valiant move, especially when you haven’t put out an album since 2009. But for Mew, it worked out perfectly.
Opting to team up with producer Michael Beinhorn (Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers) alongside guitarist Russell Lissack of Bloc Party, the new album + – (plus minus) is a technical dream-rock marvel. It is also a heartfelt welcome back for Mew.
“We did a lot of conceptualization on the previous records, not so much with this one,” Bjerre shares, “I think we just wanted to play and see what came out of it. We took a leap of faith, and trusted that no matter what we do, it’s gonna sound like the band. I think that you can tell when you hear the record. It has a lot of openness to it, and I think it’s a very inviting record, almost like in a celebratory way.” + – carries some ridiculously catchy pop ballads like “Satellites,” but also some heavier hitting romantic rock songs in “Water Slides” and “Witness.” If you’re looking for a reminder of when pop music was simple, welcome a new Mew into your library. It’ll be as if they never left.
Mew performs at Venue on September 25.BC, British Columbia, Mew, Venue