I just love the name of this album: And the Glass Handed Kites. I don’t see its resemblance in the music, but it’s vague and darkly suggestive enough to win me over. Most of the albums actual songs achieve a stickily pleasant dark quality. Some just seem to need a kick in the ass.
Mew is absolutely a band of many influences – some easily recognized by your frat-boy-turned-watered-down-indie-music-obsessor. Others more obscure, and dare I say INDIE. And the Glass Handed Kites goes off with a disastrous banging of percussion and tinny guitar ascent that melds Shiner riffs and Cocteau Twins vocals, leaving a little bit of mystery at the door. It never does a band justice to simply compare their sounds to the sounds of others, (and more than likely BETTER others), but the comparisons rise to the surface in this album. I will proceed to write this entire review with many comparisons and suggestions of influence, purely because THEY’RE SO DAMN OBVIOUS.
One can’t help but hear J. Mascis, of Dinosaur Jr. fame, in the third track, Why Are You Looking Grave?. While Jonas Bjerre’s voice has Mascis written all over it, it also lends itself to soft, pretty shoegazer deprecation with impact heavy buildups and soft tinkly piano letdowns a la early Ride.
One can appreciate Mew for their shoegazer, early indie rock sound alone. But this Danish quartet’s heaving offering somehow achieves the sense of being their own, despite the many palpable influences on their sound.
The lead guitar riffs on The Zookeeper’s Boy remind me of a diluted Big Black intro but with an additional misplaced, and somewhat, awkward synthesizer accompaniment. The Zookeeper’s Boy redeems itself with anthemic girl/boy duet work that’s slightly gauzy and sweet. And everyone is a sucker for songs with mentions of animals.
As I wade through the rest of this album, I’m appreciative yet left slightly wanting. It’s a good enough album to be considered good, but definitely not great. What albums are great though? Certainly very few. The songs just seem to repeat themselves. They all sound increasingly familiar. So much so that I force myself to resist the temptation to stop at track ten. I really like several of these tracks… but probably just because I really really like Ride, Dinosaur Jr., Shiner and My Bloody Valentine.
– Shrie Bradford