Much like the country in which it was conceived, ‘Visuals’, the seventh album from Danish dream-poppers Mew, harbours an imposing nature concealed behind its inherent beauty. Written while on the road in support of previous release ‘+-‘, there’s a definite sense of the band attempting to, and succeeding in, capturing what frontman Jonas Bjerre refers to as a ‘creative peak’.
Though coming twenty years in to their career, the peak to which Jonas refers sees Mew injected with a vigour most often seen on debuts; a feeling of youthful exuberance manifest in the sugary stomp of ‘Candy Pieces All Smeared Out’, or the heady fizz of lead single ’85 Video’.
Despite such energy however, there’s an ever-present iciness, going further than the chilly synths that carry much of the album, reaching as far as the production itself. As a result, the record’s more introspective moments, ‘Shoulders’ for instance, or the penultimate ‘Zanzibar’, though majestic in their own right, feel almost desolate in their despondency. The latter in particular arguably the record’s darkest offering.
Despite this, the pervading feeling of the record is one of icy optimism, and as such, the occasional moments of warmth that punctuate the album are all the more effective. The frenetic funk of ‘Twist Quest’ for example, and its warm washes of brass provide some much needed respite from the otherwise glacial textures.
Though ‘Visuals’ might be Mew’s first record since the departure of founding member Bo Madsen, it’s a confident release from a seasoned band still harbouring the energies of youth. Somewhat paradoxically however, it’s also a considered record, one that muses on the transient and a reminder of the importance of being able to appreciate what we’ve got, while we’ve got it.