Free and legal MP3: Mew (streamlined “prog pop”)

“Repeaterbeater” – Mew

A Danish band that has referred to itself as making “pretentious art rock,” the good-natured members of Mew here offer a chewy morsel of something that might legitimately be called “prog pop.” With all the swirling, driving, off-balance magnitude of full-out prog rock, “Repeaterbeater” condenses its weighty, almost-pompous intro into seven seconds, then hits the ground running.

Over a pulsing but irregular beat, the verse divides its melody into syncopated spurts, carving up the time signature in the process. That’s an effective songwriting trick, to my ears: combining the illusion of a normal beat with a complex rhythm. The chorus is at once flowier but still oblique, with its guitar effects and a melody that’s smoother but still so resolutely off the beat that we have the impression of further adventures in time signature shifting. And yet the whole chorus is actually in 4/4 as far as I can tell. Another effective songwriting trick, the opposite of the last one: making a regular time signature sound offbeat. And then maybe the best trick of all is that “Repeaterbeater,” which wraps up in just two and a half minutes, catches the ear so emphatically and yet without the benefit of any sort of standard hook. It’s a mysterious thing.

“Repeaterbeater” is a song from the trio’s forthcoming album, the title of which is written as a poem: No More Stories/Are Told Today/I’m Sorry/They Washed Away/No More Stories/The World Is Grey/I’m Tired/Let’s Wash Away. It’s due out next month on Sony BMG. Before that, the song will also be featured on the five-song No More Stories EP at the end of this month. MP3 via Spinner.

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