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2 December 2003

London Dates
London, ULU

Supporting Mew

Motel 74
Into My Blood

Review by Gen Williams

Lather, rinse, repeat as required. That seems to be Mew's motto. Having blitzed the UK earlier this year to promote their album, they're back again to plug the Xmas single ['She Came Home For Christmas'] that they released this time last year. Well, if it ain't broke...

The singer-songwriter label is a hard burden to bear. Seems like Carina Round's been slogging away for ages... and for comparatively little recognition. On launching into her set, comparisons with PJ Harvey are less reasonable, more unavoidable. It would be easy to dismiss her as yet another throaty chick-muso cast in a crumbling mould. As her set progresses though, she begins to show off an otherworldly voice that pays a dignified compliment to the likes of Katie Jane Garside and Kate Bush, swooping and trilling manically against the pounding Polly Jean-esque sonic backdrop. Well worth a second look.

What can you say about Mew that hasn't already been said? Bittersweet cherubic Scandiwegian angelpop pretty pretty aaaaaah Aha gooey Sigur Ros with pop hooks -*snip*. They made a memorable impression last time they floated down to earth upon our muddy shores, taking the saccharine and much-used Scandinavian indie-pop blueprint [see: Kent, Wannadies] and polishing it up with a glimmer of piercing sweetness that set them a head above their peers, and the release of their album, 'Frengers', confirmed the quality they displayed live. All very nice.

Sadly there's little to report beyond that. The first time this writer saw Mew, they seemed accomplished but detached, uninvolved in the emotions they portrayed. Subsequent live experiences dismissed that notion - tonight's show brings it hurtling back again. ULU does them no favours - it's a mediocre venue at the best of times, its sound sucking the juiciest melodies dry and leaving them somewhat... well... shrivelled. '156' and 'Shespider' are usually wolves in sheeps' clothing, their darkest undercurrents nestled beneath a sugary layer of harmonies and jangly guitar chords, but tonight they sound tame and toothless.

Newer offerings, including the B-side to 'She Came Home AGAIN For Christmas', make a none too impressive dent in the memory, sounding formulaic by Mew's standards. Even 'Comforting Sounds', the traditional set closer that expands from a quietly unsettling number into an elephantine, squealing mass of guitars and guitars and more guitars, layered over each other with heartfelt abandon... doesn't. At the point where it should erupt and billow like a freak storm and knock you flat, it rather offers a sleepy breeze somewhere around your ears. Meeting the "perfectly acceptable" mark but really not delivering what they're evidently capable of, it's a disappointing show for Mew. If you came here tonight to hear some lovely, nice pop tunes, then no doubt it was a charming experience, but if you want more emotion from a live experience, more passion, more intensity, just *MORE*, methinks you're in the wrong room. ting: from Author: Gen Williams

Originally online at the Drowned in Sound