It’s a mystery how Mew was able to convince a major label to sign it, but it’s good to know that the Danish outfit hasn’t straightened out its wonderfully tangled pop songs on its third big-league record (and fifth overall). Though frontman Jonas Bjerre promised a more upbeat album than Mew’s previous masterpiece, And The Glass Handed Kites, the new disc’s massive title, 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 (which comes from the lyrics to a pretty little vignette buried in the middle of its nearly hourlong running time) lets prospective buyers know that Mew hasn’t exactly leaped into “Shiny Happy People” territory. But just as the real world is made up of a complex mix of emotions, No More Stories… takes listeners on a ride that isn’t as seamless as its predecessor, which blended each song into the next. But it’s still best appreciated as a complete journey.
The trip doesn’t get old, either. Even as the band goes triumphant, the epic nature of Mew’s best songs isn’t based on the kind of hit-over-the-head choruses that can eventually turn gems into novelties. Instead, the innumerable memorable moments are crafted with strange sounds, jagged guitars, unorthodox beats, great keys, Bjerre’s dreamy, otherworldly voice, and other assorted dramatic effects that reveal new bits of magic with each listen. Mew really does inhabit a place where few contemporaries can be found, so even during the volcanic “Hawaii,” which sounds like something Death Cab For Cutie might have done had it made good on its promise to go prog on Narrow Stairs, it’s hard to imagine another band writing and executing any of this.