Probably the most popular Danish rock group, Mew, hailing from Hellerup, Denmark, return with their 6th record, and their 1st since 2009, entitled + –. Featuring Russell Lissack, of the band Bloc Party, and Kimbra, + – does what Mew kind of always has done; confusingly blend template-indie-pop with progressive rock. More electronic than they’ve been before however, now described as “dream-pop” by writers such as Ian Cohen of Pitchfork, “indie stadium,” or the most pretentious option, “a mix between feelings and thinking,” by their bassist Bo Madsen, I don’t really know what to think of + – other than to say that I’m not really into it. It reminds me of being in my early teens again and just accepting whatever was on college indie radio as the music that I liked. It’s not to say that Mew is radio pop, but they do have that indie-pop vibe that could easily be played on those kind of satellite radio stations.
They’ve got catchy songs, like the opener and single, “Satellites,” and lead singer Jonas Bjerre’s voice is pretty much built for the genre, so it fits, and it’s popular, and it’s not half-bad, it’s just not… good enough? I would never want to judge a band’s release or life work in saying that it’s “not good enough,” but when I do say that, it’s more of a “this isn’t gonna last” shelf-life kind of statement. It’ll be catchy radio indie-pop for about a month or two, and then Mew will disappear again. Not as an insult to Mew or anything, but by now, a month since its release, for those of you who even listen to Mew in the first place, you’re probably already over it unless you’re super-fans. Maybe the Danish are still jamming. And it’s a shame because the songs all sound like they could have been better if they were just done a little different. The groove might hit us harder if it were produced less digitally. Bass guitar and drums, the low end of the frequency spectrum, drive the main sensation of foot tapping or head bobbing in music because that’s the range where we feel the lower frequencies in our body as well as hearing them through our ears. If it would have been more live sounding and not super compressed, it might’ve sounded more lively and more engaging. But nonetheless as is, as Laurence Day of The Line of Best Fit put it, “if nothing else, it was a Mew album through and through.”