I was a bit down on the new album, most likely because my expectations were unreasonably skewed by And the Glass Handed Kites. (If ever I had to play that game again in which you choose 5 albums to keep you sane on a desert island, Kites would be at the top of the list. Each track flows seamlessly into the next, as if they were scenes in a movie. And there's not a clunker in the bunch.) Should've known that it would only be a matter of time before I grew into it. (I had brushed aside Kites upon my initial sampling. So unmoved I was that I skipped Mew when I had a chance to see them on the same bill as Bloc Party and Secret Machines.) The performance last night definitely sped up the process. (I've been listening to No More Stories ... all day, inspired in large part by last night's performance of "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy.")
For most, Mew is almost certainly an acquired taste. And it seems that, even for an experienced listener, each new album presents a new taste to acquire. There's just always so much complexity and nuance to digest. Atonal guitar riffs, discordant synth notes, disjointed rhythms, screechingly high-pitched vocals -- ugly individual noises that somehow meld to form luscious soundscapes.
I knew that getting any of my new music buddies to show for the concert would be a tough sell. In making the pitch, I described Mew as "maybe operatic, stadium-sized, indie rock with a slight metal tinge, if that makes any sense?" To my surprise, one bit within minutes, and another followed the next day. And we all agreed that the performance last night was phenomenal. (Shows are always more enjoyable when you're with others who share your enthusiasm.)
I last saw the band a couple of years back at Irving Plaza, and it was a rather disappointing experience. The sound system seemed mis-calibrated, as did Jonas's voice, and most everything sounded awash with a lack of clarity. But the band -- particularly Jonas -- was in top form last night. And the venue was ideal. The sound was big enough to fill MSG, but it was all squished into a shoebox of a space.
Can't wait for them to come back on a full North American tour.