Space rock. Let’s talk about it. Pioneered in the 60s, popularized in the 70s, and still kicking to this day, this is a rock subgenre that branched off of another subgenre, psychedelic rock. I’m not pretending to be an expert; this is just the basic history brought to you from me, which is actually more like to me from Google, from me to you. Now that that’s covered, I’d like to tell you about an album that dominated my Spotify and YouTube playlists for most of January.
Frengers was the first commercial success that Danish indie band Mew saw, back in 2003. But if I’m calling them indie now, what’s with A Brief History of Space Rock back up top? Well, space rock is a genre that relies on slow and lengthy instrumentals that are then dominated by electric elements: electric organs, synthesizers, and experimental guitar work. (Technically a feature is also sci-fi or space themed lyrics, but I’m focusing on the musical structure.) That is Mew, to a ‘T’. Honestly, several of the instrumental passages on this album make me think of Christmas because of their light use of bells, and that’s coupled with some electronic elements that are just out of this world (bolded to get the obnoxious pun across).
So, the music is cool, I hear you saying. But is that all Mew has going for them? I’m happy to say it’s not. Mew isn’t another rock band that’s -badly- trying to insight its fans to anger, or revolution. No.
Mew writes love songs.
Basically. Not exclusively, but Frengers is full of them. Admittedly, as beautiful as they are, some of them are a bit, uh, questionable. Paired with memorable melodies are lyrics like, “In winter you’re an affliction/ That repeatedly defeated me,” that then lead listeners into a chorus like, “I’ll find you somewhere/ Show you how much I care/ Know that there is no escape/ from my snow brigade.” The piano beneath the drums and guitar in this particular song just send this piece of music into a different playing field that a lot of generic rock bands can’t compete with. Listen here if it sounds like something you’re interested in. It’s four minutes you (probably) won’t regret on YouTube.
In the midst of Frengers are other bits of lyrical and poetic genius that most people can probably enjoy, even apart from the love songs. 156, one of the most chilling songs on the album ~in my opinion~, features this relatable bit; “In a big, big way/ I am really small/ I get off my feet/ But I’m still distant”. I feel that, Mew. If you do too, it can be found here.
All in all, the entirety of Frengers is a masterpiece. It feels like music you listen to in the winter (I concede that the strong motif of snow could also have something to do with this), and what else do any of us have to do?