At the 2003 Danish Music Critics Award Show, Mew won the awards for ‘Band of the Year’ and ‘Album of the Year’.
The title-unknown word of their album-, ‘Frengers’, is a portmanteau of the words friend and stranger. A frenger is someone who is ‘not quite a friend but not quite a stranger’, according to the album’s booklet.
Before ‘frengers’ we had a taste of Mew from their two remarkable previous albums, ‘A Triumph For Man‘ (1997), ‘Half The World Is Watching Me‘ (2000), but their third album ‘Frengers’ (released on 7th April 2003 by Evil Office), is a real wonder.
Several of the songs on the album (‘She Came Home For Christmas’, ‘Am I Wry? No’, ‘156’, ‘Symmetry’, ‘Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years’, ‘Comforting Sounds’) appeared in other versions on the first two albums but are unequal, lacking in comparison.
How can I describe with words the magic distilled by the sounds of ‘Frengers’? You can file it under anything: Shoegaze? Indie? Indie pop? Dream pop? Progressive? It matters not. Here, we have an ‘indie’ album which is unbelievably technical and progressive. The songs are full of excellent pop structures and vocals, in a progressive completed music web.
The production is clean like a clear sky, with a powerful, tough and beefy, almost thrash rhythm section. Allow me to congratulate, Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen, for his bombastic but harmonious and perfectly balanced recital on drums & percussion— an absolutely great drummer.
The melodies are hidden behind the complex but perfectly well-balanced instrumental parts.
The calm/falsetto voice, of Jonas Bjerre, often reminds Jón Þór Birgisson of Sigur Rós but Jonas is more ‘earthly’ and singing in English!
Mew, create their unique sound= Powerful yet sensitive.
The extraordinary opening ‘Am I Wry? No’ is the typical ‘Frengers’ song..
An arresting, hypertechnical progressive phenomenon, with excellent melodies , continual riff & rhythmical changes, haunting choral verses, defective & military drums, heavy guitar wall, computerized, rhythm section of steel.
It’s impossible to get bored of this song; you can’t stop listening— an awesome indie/progressive opera.
‘156’ starts with Porcupine Tree-inspired atmospherics, and becomes more mainstream and easy listening around the chorus.
The absolute highlight of the album, ‘Snow Brigade’, really is a snow brigade: a frenetical, post shoegaze/grunge storm, that flows like a road roller at downhill with broken shoe brakes, powerful, epic, with overwhelming refrain, burning /sonic guitars, thrash rhythm section, biting bass, bombastic drums out of this world, eerie/industrial/space synths-haunting-at-end song. I still break my neck headbanging to ‘snow brigade’ like the first time. One of the most explosive songs I have ever heard.
‘Symmetry’, a piano ballad, calms down the album— a crystal duet with Becky Jarrett.
‘Her Voice Is beyond Her Years’ is shoegaze! Ethereal guitars and the angelic vocals of Stina Nordenstam run euphoric into flowers and fresh spring air… Really awesome!
‘She Spider’ is a fast and furious shoegaze-indie explosive anthem with amazing guitars and triumphal refrain.
The new version of ‘Wherever’ is a rhythmic mid-tempo masterpiece, that parades in an ethereal, proud-steed and exquisite way.
The epic 9-minute, closing track ‘Comforting Sounds’ is the perfect epilogue to this album. The first 4 ½ minutes of the song are full of calm and bliss and, then, a symphonic, colourful melancholic atmosphere is a tearful way to the end.
After ‘Frengers’, what Mew have released is notable, but nothing compares to it.
‘Frengers’ is an unbelievable thrill… a unique masterpiece.
‘Never escape from my snow brigade...’