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Mew - and the Glass handed Kites




Having never heard of Mew (call me ignorant), I turned to the press release that accompanied the CD to see what I was in store for. "It sounds like ten bands playing ten different albums at the same time". So sitting down with a full packet of panadol within reach, I winced, and tentatively hit play. For the first 17 seconds, I was thinking I should have opted for stronger pain killers. And then a pleasant thing occurred…my new friends Mew rocked out.

  

And The Glass Handed Kites is a progressive rock album in every sense. Sounds evolve, songs blend into other songs, and genres develop to create a beautifully listenable work of art. The opening number, Circuitry Of The Wolf is one of two instrumental tracks on the album and provides a rocking jingle-jangle introduction into the reflective Chinaberry Tree. The upbeat Special pushes the more radio-friendly side of Mew's repertoire, with a relatively conventional verse-chorus song structure. That said, there are enough curious samples of sound to entertain the neediest of listeners.

  

Masterfully experimenting with the idea of ‘one long song', the middle five or six tracks from the moody Apocalypso to the second instrumental, Small Ambulance, tell a manic story of aural discovery. The moods shift from traditional rock verses to cinematic choruses, and a common experimentation of instruments and sounds make this usually self-indulgent task one of genuine delight. Perfect for those public transport rides home when all you want to do is get your mind away from that fat man's armpit – do you think they'll quote that on their next press release?

  

And The Glass Handed Kites finishes with the emotional Louisa Louisa, a desperate plea from one lover to another, begging them to stay. And with the final a capella lines "Stay with me… don't want to be alone", so ends one of the best rock albums I have heard in a long time. Sure, there are moments of repetition and questionable sounds that Mew pass off as ‘arty', but name a progressive rock band not guilty of that? Mew's genius is in limiting those moments to the bare minimum, so they don't sound like ten bands playing at once, and for that reason alone, they deserve a better publicist.

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