Album: No More Stories...
Though the beginning of the title of Mew's latest album, No More Stories..., implies an explicit lack of storytelling, nothing could be farther from the truth. The album is an epic in every sense, building up, meeting controversy and then the eventual victory. The band's most beautiful arrangements are continually met with a new pop sensibility, and even after one listen, the results are hard to argue with. It's a true tale of triumph, even if never expressly stated in words. Most statements on No More Stories... are made by the music playing to itself in the background, or as it ends up being in most sections, the forefront.
As much as No More Stories... could easily play as an instrumental piece, lead singer Jonas Bjerre's powerful falsetto acts an equally important piece of the puzzle. It displays contrast, the strength our main character will sometimes experience, and the hardship he sometimes must overcome. It is, in essence, a happy album, but its introspective points, specifically on "New Terrain" and "Beach" are what sets it aside from any similarly-laid out work. As much as the band denies creating a suite, the music's epic, dynamic nature mixed with superior arrangement, does lend to that effect. This of course, is all in the context of a more rock-oriented release however, so the experience becomes less about endurance, and more enjoying each fleeting blend of pop and prog rock in the moment. Even clocking in at nearly an hour though, it's well-worth every second.
[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #17, Dan Deacon's Bromst]