Weyes Blood is certainly not sinking
Beautiful. Mystical. Transformative. Not the kind of release one would expect for early April. It seems like a bow tie, a (mostly) satisfied look back on a year, a life and a time at school. A musical construction of places seen on screen. What is it? Weyes Blood’s new album Titanic Rising. It features a near-ideal mix of songs, where there is clear consistency in sound and yet minimal instances of repetition (looking at you, Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack). It has some flaws, but even the friend that everyone looks up to has flaws as well, so not a huge drawback. Let’s trek further into this magical world!
Track one: “A Lot’s Gonna Change” — sees singer Natalie Mering trying to prepare herself for her uncertain future, or an acceptance of what’s to come after a big moment has arrived (a break-up or a new job, say)? Regardless, it’s a profound tune predicting the shake-up of current stability and a fitting gateway to the rest of the oasis that is Titanic Rising. Chills will pace about the arms while the heart sinks into a comfy chair at the piano’s beckoning. The massage parlor-level of relaxation is sadly subverted in the first few seconds of “Andromeda,” where the song sounds like it skips, quickly changing styles and potentially upsetting those who liked where the first style was headed. This slow jam has a slew of good lines, though the favorite is, “be quiet if I shatter,” sung with the melancholy of Maleficent herself.
“Everyday” opens with some low register piano, and frankly sounds like it could be the intro of a rap song, but it settles in to its groove after a few measures and shares thoughts about loneliness, uncertainty, and the struggles of love. Most of the songs on this album are longer than the average 3:30 minute number, but this one feels too long — the final 90 seconds don’t benefit the song.
The runner-up to the best song aboard the Titanic is “Something to Believe,” which feels familiar by its second listen; a level of familiarity equal to sleeping on the couch. It opens memorably, and features lines that augment the feeling of sadness and finality: “Gotta do what I can/ to avoid the quicksand” and “Give me something I can see/ something bigger and louder than the voices in me/ something to believe.” Easily at home in the second half of a movie.
The title track whizzes by briskly, one of two that sits under two minutes, but it’s one of the best at sonically describing the world that this album came from. It’s a skeptical walk through a cave; baby blue lights kissing the dark ground, water droplets calming and inciting doubt, slow mist providing a reluctant blanket. Not a word is spoken or sung, but a picture is surely painted. And the destination at the end of the cave is revealed in the enchanting opening of “Movies,” the clear highlight track. It is appropriately cinematic, impeccably arranged, and easily the first pick for the song to show people to get them hooked on Weyes Blood. It feels like a female version of Muse’s most introspective yet grand-scale tracks, like the “Exogenesis Symphony” of The Resistance. Each chord change hits with graceful force, like a hug from your grandparents, and the string interlude! My goodness, this song didn’t need to flex on us with this many enticing elements to it, yet still, it does. Beautiful piece of music right here.
Admittedly, the next three don’t have too many standout moments, but rather function as explorations of different nooks in this Atlantis-like world that Weyes Blood has created. They contribute to the culture, if you will, but don’t set any trends, and that is often the life of songs that are easy listens. “Nearer to Thee” closes out the album, and is an unexpectedly good final number. Looking ahead earlier in a first listen, seeing a song that is barely over one minute as the album-ender might seem foolish, yet, in its vocal-free run, it bids listeners farewell with the last trace of ambiance and sound that stick in the memory as the visit to this underworld oasis comes to a close.
In whichever form a dream world exists in each audience member’s eyes, there’s a mighty fair chance that the music of Weyes Blood helps fill out the patches in the imagination. This is a gorgeous record and is certainly worth a listen or two, whether or not you’re currently sinking.