Can the Artistic Romantic Survive The Internet?

Following 37 years of internet hibernation, The Rolling Stones’ Cocksucker Blues finally sees the light of day this week. Hacked down into nine segments, the first installation of the film that threatened to ban their access to those United States of Whatever has leaked. Directed by acclaimed photographer Robert Frank, a court order imposed on the film stated that it could not be shown unless Frank were physically present, thus sectioning its viewing to organised screenings and bootleg copies, one of which allegedly belongs to doom popster/ goth rocker Marilyn Manson. Art house shots of Keif plodding away on the piano of all things, overt sexualisation not too far from Almodóvar and harmless bumbling, mumbled interviews make it stereotypically Stones without the Scorsese twist and yet it’s destined to be removed from Dots & Dashes, only to be reinstated on blogs higher up the food chain within the technological kingdom of internet music before the process repeats itself ad infinitum.

Similarly, Danish romantic fringe flickers Mew release their highly-anticipated fifth record next week, despite its leak months back. The success of music and its viable saleability over the past few decades has seemingly been largely accredited to the physicality of essentially what is a sensual product, from vinyl on to tape and then on to CDs and reinforced vinyl resistant to the chocolate-coated fingers of kids fiddling through record collections. Through acquiring leaked records online, there’s no question of the theft of money, ambition and livelihood but it is the subsequent loss of romance that is most damaging. For music aficionados, the majority look back nostalgically at the first Kylie, Clash or Velvet Underground record they saved their pocket money up for a month for to go and splash it all in one fell swoop in a smoky basement. I can’t. But I’d bet my pocket money it was something crap. Almost every record bought before my fourteenth birthday was nonsense; Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water from Virgin Megastores New York, Alien Ant Farm’s ANThology from the now-defunct dodgy independent shop down the road, etcetera. Even Humbug, the retro-tinged new one from Alex Turner’s Arctic Monkeys has slipped through Domino’s clutches, spewing out far and wide within them wires o' t’internet. The temptation’s always there and in answer to Brandon Flower’s inquisitive questioning, we are human and therefore designed to give in. Which is a terrible shame, as Humbug is perhaps the record of 2009 thus far, filled with swirling guitars and howling Hammonds. Slipping into the surrealist spectrum, Mew’s (breath) 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 flings shards of barking brilliance down the tunnels that line the alternative underground scene of the world, linking like-minded bloggers across seas and M3s.

Of course, for Mew to release anything short of a masterpiece is a ridiculous concept in itself and No More Stories... is no exception; from the disorientating opening reversed contortions of New Terrain it becomes painstakingly apparent that their ambition’s still intact, even though their sales may never peak as highly as their desire to perplex. Entirely impossible to decipher, it’s a work of astonishing beauty as choruses crash down harder than Hawaiian waves. Beach paints swathes of dreamily disconcerting vocals over gleaning guitars, glistening like pearls beneath a crystal clear sea of slick Rich Costey production whilst the jolting drum patterns of Introducing Palace Prayers combines with computer game keys before the chorus crescendo grows into the beast to the trio’s beauty, barely contained within the plastic of a promo CD. Repeater Beater lets loose the pounding aggression contained within previous twisting, towering tracks Apocalypso and Snow Brigade before Vaccine injects the hardest hitter of No More Stories... Provided it gets called in from the waiting room. No doubt, Mew will be left to wait, and wait and procrastinate until the gaudy, greedy world of indie implodes on itself, leaving in its wake hoards of post-NME depression and from its flaming glossy pages arise divinely inspired phoenixes, led by Denmark’s prime purveyors of post-rock perfection.