This collection was my first introduction to Mew and admittedly, if I had written this review upon my first spin of the album, I wouldn't have rated it too high. It's not a band that I immediately took to right away. Don't get me wrong, the music is fantastic, perhaps a bit less "Progressive Rock" that what I was expecting (this is how it was described to me before I heard the music for myself). The vocals bothered me a bit, always in a high register without variation. That was my first impression anyway...
Yet I kept coming back to this CD, and within a couple more spins and I was hooked. If Mew is not "Progressive Rock" in the most traditional sense of the word then it shares much of that genre's sense of adventure to consider the songs on this collection a spiritual cousin. "The Zookeeper's Boy" must be one of the most joyous choruses I've heard this year so far! I've come to really enjoy the musicianship on this collection and I have been appreciating the nuances in the vocals I did not hear before the more I listen, so I am now a fan.
This collection draws from most if not all their releases since their debut, with Frengers and No More Stories taking a lion's share of space and & The Glass Handed Kites being oddly under-represented. I like how, that although this is a compilation, it musically flows together so well like a concept album might. There is also one new track, "Do You Love It?" (to which I said "yes!")
Now I am looking to expand my Mew collection (if I can just look past those bizarre album covers of theirs). :)
Final Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Favorites: "Snow Brigade", "Introducing Palace Players", "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy", "Zookeeper's Boy", "Special", "156"
The packaging for the standard version comes in a traditional jewel case. The booklet contains no lyrics for the songs (only information as to what song came from which album), and an essay from a journalist/fan. There are also odd drawings inside, but no band photos than what is shown on the cover and on the back.