Label: Sony BMG Release date: 24/08/09 Website: Official Site OK, I’m well aware that it’s poor form to review a new album by comparing it to the band’s last release – I mean, I should judge it on its own merits, right? – but Mew and the Glass Handed Kites was such a fantastic record that it can’t help but overshadow their newest effort. It burst out of the gate from the word go and stayed in high gear throughout every dizzying high and devastating low. When the ridiculously long-windedly titled No More Stories Are Told Today, I'm Sorry, They Washed Away, No More Stories Are Told Today, The World Is Grey, I'm Tired, Let's Wash Away begins, however, it stutters to life with a couple of messy introduction tracks that mean your first listen is already tainted with the feeling that things aren’t gonna be quite as good as the last time round. As the album finally finds its footing, those who would consider themselves a fan of Mew will find plenty to enjoy – there’s the typical Mew shoegazey-pop sound of the guitars, and the high vocals that float ethereally along, above it all. The rhythm section combines to back it up with danceable beats, and it all sounds very pretty and catchy. Y’know, what you’d expect from a Mew album. There are the big moments, like the pounding choruses of Repeater Beater, and smaller, subtler moments like the delicate acoustic and glockenspiel combo that opens Silas the Magic Car, all sitting side by side on a dynamic and varied album. The thing is, though, Mew spoiled us with Glass Handed Kites, an album that, instead of being a mere collection of songs, was one big piece that ebbed and flowed, gaining momentum at every turn. Everything fit together, and there wasn’t an inch of wasted space. No More Stories, however, has gaps between songs that result in too much silence and silly missteps like the frankly redundant Intermezzo and A Dream tracks which can make the album seem a little disjointed, so it never takes off in the same way that Glass Handed Kites did. This would be more forgivable if the band were trying something new, but no – this is all well worn territory for Mew, resulting in something that feels like a collection of B-Sides to their best albums. Fortunately it ends much better than it begins, with Tricks’ bass-heavy beats, the drone of Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy giving way to chirpy piano-pop with a choral chorus, and the hazy outro to closing track Reprise leaving you on a high note. This is a tricky one, then. Mew fans will love it, obviously, and so will anyone who enjoys well crafted pop. Mew are great at what they do, and this album is more proof that they’re one of the best indie pop bands around, capable of making the most beautifully epic and intimately personal moments within one 53 minute record. But this is far from their best work, so if you’re new to Mew then you’d do well to look elsewhere. You can probably guess where I think you should start. Rating: I can’t decide. 6/10 by Mew’s standards, 8/10 by most other bands. Average it out at a 7 if you really must.