December 5, 2008

A Triumph for Man (1997)

Being a new writer on this blog, I thought I could start out by writing about one of my all-time favorite albums.

Mew - Coffee Break

Mew - Panda

Mew - Web

Above, you can find my three favorite tracks from Danish indie rock / dream pop band Mew's 1997 debut album, A Triumph for Man. Today, Mew are arguably the most famous for the pompous and bombastic prog-rock influenced soundscape of their fourth studio album, And the Glass Handed Kites (which was also their definite international breakthrough). It is hard to imagine that this "indie stadium band" (jokingly dubbed so by guitarist Bo), who after their latest release opened for REM on their Europe tour, and Bloc Party on their US tour, started out with the mellow-sounding and introverted A Triumph For Man - a record release that saw no more than a mere 2000 CDs produced.

In this early album, the influences that shaped Mew to the band they are today, are much more easily recognizable. It is quite evident that the four Danes grew up listening to the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Swirlies. The distorted walls of guitars and the high-pitched vocals of these shoegaze bands were combined with smart pop songwriting to create the easily accessible, but still deep little masterpiece A Triumph for Man. The strutting confidence of the guitars combined with shy, eccentric frontman Jonas Bjerre's soft and modest voice and melancholic lyrics make for a true beauty of an album, by many Danish music journalists considered one of the 90s best records.

The influence from Swirlies is at times painfully obvious, but the similarity was by all means blessed from Swirlies themselves. Damon Tujian, guitarist and vocalist of the Boston shoegazer band, personally crossed the atlantic and endured many long and cold Danish winter weeks to co-produce this debut album of the four 20-year old boys. I personally prefer this classic to Mew's newest effort, and warmly recommend this best example of what Scandiavian rock music has to offer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's late / very early and I'm studying for finals.

I go to UGA... as I imagine you might also...

Before tonight I had only heard "The Zookeeper's Boy" from Mew's latest release. I love that song but never pursued any of the bands other material.

I have been studying all night and these three tracks have been looping constantly the whole time.

"Coffee Break" is particularly brilliant... seriously, it may end up being one of my favorite songs of all time.'s one of those rare few where everything just clicks.

Thanks for turning me on to this beautiful album.

Cheers, and good luck with finals (if you have to take them)