21/10/14 – Mew – Am I Wry? No – 2002

Mew - Am I Wry? No - Single Sleeve 2003

By the end of 2002 Mew were ready to release their third album, Frengers through a new major deal with Sony in early 2003. They had already received critical acclaim at home in Denmark after the release of their first album, A Triumph For Man (1997) through Exlibris Records and their second album, Half The World Is Watching Me (2000) was released independently on their own Evil Office label.

They rerecorded six songs from their first two releases and added four new songs as they were about to be unveiled to the world outside. Am I Wry? No had already appeared on Half The World Is Watching Me and was an example of a band brimming over with so many great ideas that they could barely fit them all in to the song. In fact it was so rich that they released it three times.

Stabbing guitars and cymbal crashes underpinned by low synth pulses and ringing arpeggios, masses of space and then calamitous rolls, the track literally explodes into life with Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen’s excitable drumming. Bo Madsen’s chiming guitar is glassy icicle spears impaling Johan Wohlert’s thumping bass – and then there’s Jonas Bjerre’s voice like a beam of pure light. I’m not exactly sure who plays what but it’s so well recorded and mixed that you can hear all the individual instruments clearly through the haze of slashing cymbals, snare drum hits and the widescreen mellotron wash. Incredible as it sounds, it’s something like the Who and Yes simultaneously.

What’s fascinating about this piece of brilliant Progressive Pop is how it manages to straddle genres with ease, never too sweet for the Progressive side and never too complex for the Pop side. The song has so many parts, but you are never lost, everything is a natural progression, you tap your foot through the busy parts, sing the melody through the crashing drums and you wonder how something so complicated can be so effortlessly executed without a single awkward moment. In the end, it’s down to the musician’s skills as players and writers and you can only admire how they have created such an imaginative, melodic, catchy and complex piece of music and made it look and sound so easy.