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4.7 out of 5 stars22
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£17.99+ £1.26 shipping
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on 4 October 2005
Ok, this is a gut-feel review having only spent only 48 hours in the company of Mew and their Glass Handed Kites (it took me weeks to get into 'Frengers', which then became my album of 2003).
With 'Kites', Mew have endeavoured to create a concept album of sorts, and unfortunately sometimes they're just too clever for their own good.
The Danish foursome have built a reputation on a distinctive sound that combines shoegazing, Euro-pop, soaring vocals, surging guitars and often perverse and obtuse changes of key and tempo within the same song. Sadly, some of the tracks on 'Kites' are just too tricksy, making it a difficult listen. There just aren't enough hooks this time around.
Which is a shame, because when Mew get it right on 'Kites' they really fly high. The triumverate of 'Apocalypso', 'Special' and 'The Zookeeper's Boy' are the undoubted highlights of the album and as good as (if not better) than anything the band have done.
'Why Are You Looking Grave?' employs J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) to shovel some of his vocal gravel over a driving guitar refrain, and the album's penultimate track - 'White Lips Kissed' - is a power ballad to rival 'She Came Home For Christmas'.
But the rest of the album is at best sketchy and scattergun, and the short instrumental tracks are pure filler (sorry!).
However, I'm gonna stick with it. Mew songs have a tendency to creep up on you slowly and smack you round the head!
It also has to be said that they are an awesome live act, and their recent show in Edinburgh (where I first heard some of this new material) was a joy to behold.
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on 11 October 2006
The last time I looked, it was 2006 in the UK, but for some reason it still seems to be 1972 in Denmark, at least where Mew are concerned and they appear quite undaunted by the fact that their chosen genre ended in tears.

Their brand of Euro progrock just bristles with period pieces such as complex polyrhythms, shifting time signatures, swathes of synthesiser and thunking bass lines a la Yes's Chris Squire. Every now and again, the instrumental passages are gilded by soaring harmonised vocals which sound a bit like they have emanated from a Monastery somewhere - all very strange - but not unpleasant. The resultant effect is very pastoral despite the obvious energy of the band.

Even though the CD booklet has a track listing, the whole album has obviously been conceived as a single piece in the best Jethro Tull tradition, and to a large degree this works. There are some nice melodies hidden in amongst the general instrumental architecture but my main criticism would be that it is too long and becomes a little samey towards the end.

Nevertheless, for us old progrockers it is a nice change from the endless corporate uniformity of many bands today and I would recommend it to anybody who fancies something with a bit more musical invention than your average chart band.
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