Danish trio Mew have stringently resisted being labelled ‘prog rock’ for almost the entire 20 years they’ve been in existence. And, while that assertion is fair enough in regards to their latest album, Visuals, a grandiose pop album that should sit comfortably with indie natives, their work prior to that positions them as not only being a prog rock band, but quite possibly one of the best Europe has ever produced.
Lofty praise, but since their 1997 debut, A Triumph for Man, Mew have excelled in creating the wide-open ambiences and the sort of clean guitar jangle pioneered by 90s indie icons like Slint. Mew’s breakout album, Frengers, is a masterclass in broad soundscapes (see Comforting Sounds), driving, purposeful rhythms (see Snow Brigade) and delicate vocal acrobatics that pivot into the indie mainstream (see Am I Wry? No).
Their 2013 Hong Kong debut was a sellout, validating the need for promoters to scratch beneath the musical surface and look beyond the obvious with regards to who they bring to the city. The gig demonstrated that indie/prog rock/art rock – or whatever sub-genre denomination is in fashion – has a place in the live scene here.
The fact that Mew return Hong Kong on September 18 is a huge coup for live fanatics in the city. Do yourself a favour and get a ticket. See you there.