Review Summary: And when you say you love him, taste me, I'm like poison on your tongue. But when you're tired, if you're quiet, you'll hear me singing you to sleep
Some bands ride on pure skill to stand out among other bands in their genre. For example, some metal bands ride solely on the skill of their lead guitarist; some alternative bands rely on the atmosphere their instruments create; some hip-hop artists rely on the beats of their songs. However, some bands rely on overall sound to stand out; none of the members are supremely skilled at his task. Put all those members together, though, and their music is just as good as bands with a superstar, if not better. mewithoutYou is one of those bands.
A→B: Life is different from their other two full-length albums, “Brother, Sister” and “Catch for us the Foxes.” Those albums don’t feature riffs like this album does in “Nice and Blue” or “We Know Who Our Enemies Are”. The guitar interlude in Nice and Blue is very aggressive, as is the opening riff in We Know Who Our Enemies Are. “The Ghost” also features maybe-punky guitar riffs and a screaming guitar line in one interlude, something that is for, the most part, missing in their later albums. The vocals in “The Ghost” are mostly screamed, and after a very quiet break towards the end of the song, it ends in a flurry of hard guitar chords and a guitar solo. The second half of “Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt” is incredibly heavy and very emotional, this coming after a very calm, smooth first half. We Know Who Our Enemies Are is an attempt to be catchy (which I personally don’t really like, maybe the only thing I don’t like on this album), but only for about half the song, and in the second half the band goes back to its heavy sound on this album, complimented of course with Weiss spitting out beautiful lyrics. Even the fillers, (A) and (B), are good. They are a bit haunting and weird and do a good job of flowing into Gentlemen and “Silencer”, respectively, though (B) might be a little too long ((A) is probably better because it does the same thing in 40 fewer seconds).
The one thing that this album is similar to their other albums is, besides the solid rhythm section (songs like Nice and Blue and I Never Said That I Was Brave feature a very nice rhythm guitar part, bass line and percussion to go along with the lead guitar and vocals) is the lyrics and vocals of Aaron Weiss. Lyrically this album is at brilliant, deep and poetic, especially in songs like “I Never Said That I Was Brave”:
When dreams of rings of flowers fade and blur, giving way to that familiar ill
Come over and part your soft white curtains where I'm waiting for you still
If you'd unlatch the window and if you'd let me lay there on your floor
If you'd give me another chance, if you'd forgive the pain I caused before
No use in saying how I'm sorry so I'm trying not to speak
I'll sing in silence, lay beside you with my face there on your cheek
My stomach swears there's comfort there in the warmth of the blankets on your bed
My stomach's always been a liar, but I'll believe its lies again
The album is filled with lyrical gems like “I’m not the boy I once was, but I’m not the man I’ll be”, in Nice and Blue; or "You might be too strong to surrender, but you're far too frail to fight", in The Ghost; or especially “I made her a widow, she made me a man” in We Know Who Our Enemies Are. “Gentlemen” seems to be about Weiss’s ex-girlfriend and how he’s never gotten over her (“So I wander and I wander, your absence beating inside my chest”, or “And I'll live without you, love, but what good is one glove without the other?”). The lyrics are not only well thought out and poetic, but in songs like Gentlemen and “Silencer” Weiss is very personal and touching. The entire second half of Catch for Us the Foxes is brilliant, and that is also true for this album.
The album’s most passionate and personal song is Silencer. It starts with a bass line and the effects that started on (B), and that sets the tone for the rest of the song. As the song gets into the chorus, the guitars match the lead vocals in very specific spots, and in the interludes between verses the leading guitar line creates a gorgeous atmosphere. Lyrically, this song is, of course, still very strong, as Weiss sings in the second verse:
She put on happiness like a loose dress over pain I'll never know
"So the peace you had," she said, "I must confess, I'm glad to see it go"
We're two white roses lying frozen just outside his door
I've made you so happy and so sad, but which should I be more sorry for?
Come kiss my face goodbye, that space below my eye and above my cheek
Cause I'm faint and fading fast; I see a darkness and I shall be released
I'll pass like a fever from this body, softly slip into His hands
I tried to love you and I failed, but I’ve another plan
Though Brother, Sister and Catch for Us the Foxes may be more complete, A→B: Life
is more raw and passionate. There’s more scream-your-problems-out screaming from Weiss, which, if done right, is an amazing way to express passion and emotion. Even though this was only his band’s first-length album, Weiss seems to have already mastered this and creates an incredibly personal and emotional album.