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Dramatic Danes

Mew - And The Glass Handed Kites
(Columbia Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 25, 2006

Review by Tony Bonyata

On their fourth full-length album, entitled And The Glass Handed Kite, Danish quartet Mew brings together many different influences, such as prog, early 90s alternative and the twee indie rock of today.

Symphonic and grandiose at times (the opening and closing of "An Envoy To The Open Fields"), edgier and spiked with angst at others ("Apocalypso") the sounds that emit from this fourteen-track collection are nothing short of challenging. While engaging melodies abound, they don't jump out but rather permeate through the lush arrangements, dreamy-pop and darkend corners.

Incorporating various elements of '90s rock acts Sonic Youth, Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr. (most notably white guitar noise and ethereal melodies) , it might seem that Mew is just updating a sound from modern rock's golden age. But rather than aping these influences they utilize them in a way that makes them sound refreshingly, if not strangely, new. Even when Dinosaur Jr.'s leader J. Mascis lends his dry, gravelly vocals on the two tracks "Why Are You Looking Grave" and "An Envoy To The Open Fields" Mew's frontman Jonas Bjerre's fey vocals and angelic instrumentation turns the alt-rock leanings into dramatic, operatic movements.

Despite a bit of pomp and pretension that weighs down a few of the numbers, listened to as a whole And The Glass Handed Kite ebbs and flows with the grace of many successful conceptual rock albums of the '70s.

Shoegazers will undoubtedly love the heavenly, sublime pop throughout, but there's also other innovative rock approaches to attract even a broader audience with their sites set to the sky.

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