The Art of Longevity Season 2, Episode 5: Mew

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If one of the secrets to longevity in the music industry is simply taking your time, then Danish alternative rock band Mew are grand masters. Formed in 1995, the band took eight years before a major label deal came along, and with it, international success (the superb breakthrough album Frengers). It did not lead to a rush. Some 26 years into the band’s career, Mew has released just seven studio albums - one every four years. That’s not something Spotify would advocate as an operating model for bands these days, is it? It’s rare for a European rock band to breakthrough to an international audience and to have a career of real longevity (count them on one hand), but it is even rarer to be so damned cool about it!

Yet Jonas Bjerre is unfazed by any concept of FOMO - or the creator equivalent ‘FOBF’ - fear of being forgotten. In fact, when the band released their last LP ‘Visuals’ in 2017 just two years after the 2015 album ‘+ -’, Jonas’s overwhelming instinct was that fans were not expecting it.

Visuals plays from beginning to end like a stage musical, something I put to Mew singer Jonas Bjerre on the Art of Longevity. It may well have been the influence of Prefab Sprout and Paddy McAloon. When it comes to influences, Mew are true musical alchemists. While many ‘rock’ (as in guitar rock) bands have eclectic and ‘classic pop’ influences, very few can meld them successfully into their own sound. Perhaps it’s because of the restrictive formulas of rock, or not wanting to upset fans. Not so with Mew. One minute they’re all off-kilter time signatures and dissonant guitar noises, the next, soaring, beautiful and catchy pop - nicely topped off with Jonas’ angelic vocals.

Listen in to hear a truly unique way of working. Jonas and Mew don't rush anything, but the results are often sublime. It is good to hear that the band is talking about another project - even if it is early days and Jonas would also like a break before. Sometimes as a music fan, patience is a virtue and the rewards are all the sweeter.

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