Review Summary: Philly's finest add another post-hardcore masterpiece to their impressive discography.
(note: I wrote this for a class project a few years ago, and thought i'd post it as my first review on sputnikmusic. please feel free to critique and/or criticize my opinion and format as you see fit)
On a chilly Tuesday morning in September, I found myself in a state of high anticipation. As I walked into my favorite record store with glee and went straight towards the new release end cap. Disappointment soon follows. There is an empty space on the rack where the third release from Philadelphia-based post-hardcore band mewithoutYou's new CD should be. "Can I help you find anything?" asked the clerk behind me. I asked him if they had any copies left. "Oh, dude we sold out already, I should've ordered more." They were only open for an hour at this point. So I decided to wait another two days for the new shipment because I believe that good things come to those who wait. Friday rolled around and I went back to find that they had kept one last copy for me. I give them my last fifteen dollars and ran to my car and popped it in my stereo and sit back for a few minutes of bliss before getting back on the road.
For those unfamiliar with the band, mewithoutYou are one of those special bands that don't make music for money, fame, and sex. Although that wasn't always the case according to lead vocalist Aaron Weiss who was quoted in 2006 saying that "About five years ago, my intentions were to make out with as many girls and get into as many magazines or TV stations as possible. I had very selfish ambitions." Fortunately a there was a change of plan and the band got into what has made them who they are today, artists. Our ears are the canvas and they are about to paint their masterpiece.
The music is generally a jazzy post-hardcore sound that the lead singer speak-sings his poetic ranting of life, love, pain, and happiness over. On this album though, they experiment with instruments that you wouldn't hear in this type of music (can I go so far as to post-post-hardcore?) such as accordions, a harp, and brass horn. Only very few tracks show their more familiar sound ("the Dryness and the Rain, Wolf Am I!).
The album starts out with the nautically themed song of sailors irresponsibly damning themselves to the depths on Messes of Men. The song starts off slowly with a soft piano over raindrops and a very light drum tempo as the opening verse is read. From there the rest of the band kicks in and the song (and album) takes off.
Taking a small break from the new experimental stuff, the band takes us on a broadened showcase of their more familiar sound on the Dryness and the Rain and Wolf am I! (and Shadow). But not too much the same as Arabic chants and tambourines are incorporated into Rain.
Wolf Am I! Ends and the first of three interludes begins. Yellow Spider slows things down, using only an acoustic guitar and an accordion. It is also one of the few songs 'sings' on. It's a nice sidetrack from the rest of the album and leads effortlessly into the next song, a Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains. This song is the best example of the new mewithoutYou sound found on the rest of the album and is the first song on the album to have an outstanding bass line.
The disc then spins into a sequel (Nice and Blue (pt. 2)), with layers of background vocals and plenty of oohs and ahhas. From there the semi-title track, The Sun and the Moon, which is based on the prayer from St. Frances entitled "Brother Sun, Sister Moon." The second of the Spider interludes again using an acoustic guitar but now with a brass horn section instead of the accordion found on Yellow Spider. The track ends just like the last interlude, replacing the name of the color.
The horns continue into C-Minor and continue to showcase the band's new found love of softer music before our friends, the accordions kick in for one last hurrah with another slow verse until the chorus explodes with a rage rarely found on the rest of the disc.
Oh Porcupine, arguably the best song on the album, is very upbeat with some clever lyricism. Brownish Spider, the final entry in the Spider interlude trilogy, is now stripped down to a piano and vocals.
The grand finale of the disc, In a Sweater Poorly Knit is completed with all the instruments found on the rest of this disc including the accordion, trombones, harps, tambourines and the sort.
The songs have a recurring theme of non-existence and the need to please G-d. "I'll hold up high a mirror Lord, I could never show you anything as beautiful as you" on Messes of Men. As well as biblical reverences to mirror the singers feelings: "I'm a donkey's jaw on a desert dune beside the bush that Moses saw" and "If I was Samson I'd have found that harlot's blade and cut my own hair short!" seen on the track , in a Marked Dimly Lit. Most of the singing is done in rants of spewed thoughts and passion that anyone of any walk of life can enjoy or be moved by. Nice and Blue, Pt. 2 is the sequel/update to 2002's Nice and Blue off of they're debut album. They use practically the same lyrics but change some lines and key words to give it a new meaning.
The artwork here is done masterfully by artists Vasily Kafanov who worked on the cover as well as the linear note paintings of the sun and the moon. Each heading for the lyrics in the booklet are done by Jason Powers, and are a real nice compliment to the songs themselves.
If you aren't familiar with the band prior to listening to Brother, Sister you might want to go back and check their previous efforts [A-->B] Life and Catch For Us The Foxes to get a better understanding of how much of a change this is for them. Many fans of the band might be disappointed with the change of pace taken here. Some first time listeners unfamiliar with the band may also be put off with the bands incorporation of Bible stories and references to God and Jesus (one reviewer went so far as to dismiss the whole album because of it). I personally don't mind because it is there beliefs and the more power to them for being bold enough to take criticism for it. In the end, this album is a wonderful piece of art that will probably be overlooked and forgotten by the mainstream audience. But for those lucky enough to discover these guys will be in for a pleasant trip to a sound-scape of passion and brutal honesty. This is the real deal and a worthy addition to anyone's music collection and is worth purchasing at your local music store. Even if you have to wait for the next shipment to arrive."