Edits are a boy/girl duo from Manchester who deal in atmospheric synth pop. They have been gigging around the country for many years and have several EP releases under their belts. They play FacFest this weekend in Manchester.
Here, the bands singer, Olivia Westhead, talks of her love of Mew.
Mew (named before the Pokemon existed!) are a Danish alternative rock band, formed in 1995.
It was our friend and bandmate at the time Alex who introduced Chris and I to Mew and I’m forever grateful.
I was about 15; fresh into the world of discovering new music, full of excitement and inspiration.
After hearing the thunderous and mesmerising ‘Am I Wry? No’ through the PA speakers in our garage/practise room I was hooked and immediately went home and downloaded the bands entire discography.
But it was breakthrough album ‘Frengers’ (2003) that stuck with me particularly. The perfect introduction to the band; highlights include ‘Am I Wry? No’, ‘Snow Brigade’, ‘156’ and the hauntingly melancholic yet epic closer, the aptly titled ‘Comforting Sounds’.
The version of ‘Frengers’ I downloaded aged 15 skipped in random places, and because of the nature of Mew’s music, it wasn’t for a few years I realised that it wasn’t supposed to be like that!
Even though I now have multiple copies on CD and Vinyl, I still have that version on my iTunes and iPod (no, I won’t let go of my 160gb iPod classic) and it makes me chuckle. Coincidentally, I realised recently that Frengers was also produced by my favourite producer, Rich Costey, who has worked on some of my favourite ever records.
12 years on, my musical tastes have matured and broadened but Mew’s music remains at the forefront. It’s now 2005’s heavier and more experimental ‘and The Glass Handed Kites’ that I’d cite as my favourite Mew work. Like a film soundtrack in parts, it’s majestic yet intricate and transports you to another world. Each track effortlessly flowing into the next, taking you on a journey through every mood.
Mew’s music is a dream-like blend of art-rock, prog and indie with elements of post-rock and even shoegaze. But it’s also kind of predominantly pop. The ease of the melodies make it completely accessible and catchy, even over the most jagged of backgrounds.
Being a vocalist, one thing I’ve always loved about Mew is their use of harmonies and vocal layering, particularly in ‘The Zookeeper’s Boy’, which has the most stunning soaring choruses.
Also, Jonas Bjerre has an amazing falsetto, so singing along has always been perfect for me and I’d always love to make up my own interweaving parts.
I’ve always been a massive fan of heavier guitar music, however I find so many vocalists in this genre very uninspiring, especially for a female singer. Mew create the perfect balance; beautiful clear vocals blended with more interesting, heavier instrumentals, something in which my band Edits always strive for.
There isn’t a boring moment in a Mew song, the melodies are crafted so intricately and there is always something going on in the background. Johan Wohlert and Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen’s bass and drum work respectively is impeccable, changing between time signatures and never quite doing what you’d expect, keeping you on your toes.
Songs like ‘Introducing Palace Players’ showcase the prog side of Mew, whereas ‘Water Slides’ (featuring Kimbra of Somebody That I Used To Know fame) is a triumphant pop anthem, the other end of the spectrum. Mew’s latest album ‘Visuals’ (2017) is without a doubt their most ‘pop’ to date, but that doesn’t make it boring or predictable in the slightest.
Despite the many years of adoration, it wasn’t until recent years that I had the opportunity to see Mew live and it was a special moment.
In 2017 Chris (fellow band member) surprised me with tickets to see them at The Ritz in Manchester, and it got even better. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Low Four (a project set up my some of our Uni Lecturers at Salford) announced they were doing a live session with Mew the same day as the Ritz gig and you could apply for tickets.
Thankfully we got some and got to see Mew perform from metres away, to a tiny audience, even being treated to a couple of extra songs when the camera’s weren’t rolling.
You can watch the session here and the eagle-eyed may spot us on the balcony – it was a surreal experience!
It occurred to me at the time how I’d never really paid much attention to what Mew looked like, and I liked that. I had no idea what faces I would see playing the music I had adored since a teen, because with Mew it was truly all about the music. Other bands I grew up with I saw on TV all the time, or read interviews in NME. Mew were different. Despite being adored all over the world, Mew felt like our little secret.
If you’ve never heard Mew, I strongly recommend you give them a listen, they really bring something different to the table and are one of the only bands who have really stuck with me throughout my own career as a musician.
I’ve picked my top tracks here, it could have easily been 10!
- The Zookeeper’s Boy
- Am I Wry? No
- Introducing Palace Players
- Comforting Sounds
As a starting point, i’d recommend Frengers and And The Glass Handed Kites. If you really want a taste and don’t want to indulge in a full studio album, they released a greatest hits style album in 2010 titled ‘Eggs Are Funny’.
Many thanks to Liv for taking the time to write about Mew.
You can catch Edits at FacFest in Manchester this weekend (26th October 2019). You can buy tickets here.