Mew's seventh set, Visuals, is a magical journey through a dream pop landscape that goes easy on the crunchy muscle of earlier efforts. Opting for atmospherics over bombast, Mew focus on mood over tight pop song structure, which is rewarding for fans of the the lusher portions of their prior album, + -. As the album sparkles to life on "Nothingness and No Regrets," each song drifts into the ether of the next, sometimes bubbling to life with dancey new wave brightness ("The Wake of Your Life") or urgent rock groove ("Ay Ay Ay"). Fans of the War on Drugs' Lost in the Dream or Tame Impala's Currents will appreciate what Mew are doing on Visuals. For fans yearning for some of Mew's old bite, the rockiest number on Visuals is "Candy Pieces All Smeared Out," which sounds like the sequel to 2009's "Repeaterbeater" before it eventually slips back into the bubbly champagne supernova of the rest of the album. It's as if Mew want to remind listeners of their guitar chops without losing their focus on Visuals' dreamscapes. Among highlights like "Twist Quest" and "85 Visuals," the album closes on a pair of expansive gems that lift Visuals into the heavens. "Zanzibar" is a gorgeous and fleeting stunner, an appetizer to the soaring closer, "Carry Me to Safety." Of all the tracks on Visuals, the bittersweet and swelling "Carry" is the best. It stands out as one of the most accomplished songs Mew have ever produced, in fact. Without founding guitarist Bo Madsen, there were fears that Mew couldn't survive as a trio. While it's true that some of their pseudo-"prog" power is lost without Madsen's riffs, Mew's delivery is no less effective. Their ever-morphing vision has simply moved beyond terrestrial bonds and ascended into the expanse of the galaxy.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung