Review Summary: A paradise of enthusiastic storytelling and instrumental passion.
The discography of mewithoutYou is a near perfect example of self-development. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that singer Aaron Weiss is the dominating member of the group, as he far surpasses the standard for a rock vocalist, delving into poetic and philosophical territories in his art – while rhythmically guided by his band-mates his ability to harness the human mind is Godly in the vicarious sense of the word. A man plagued by struggles that relate to an extremely vast demographic, his words and the always emotional deliverance of them inspire, create, re-create, and destroy. While he isn’t as questioning on this album as on previous efforts at all, his confidence is still a pleasing remedy to marvel at if only for its refinement of religious music. Aaron Weiss is a person who self-admittedly (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57lFaky5HrQ) believes in rectifying a broken self in order to impose goodness on others; therefore his message is detailed and personal as opposed to overly preaching. To call this album a collection of Christian campfire sing-along songs would be a statement generously described as ignorant and superficially concerned with the sonic aspects of it alone; to call it an album of pure worship would also be. Weiss is relevant in the secular mind – educational for more reasons than accepting a faith, rather a moral compass of sorts. He is well-versed in fables and stories with meaning, religious teachings and existential inquiry and does not disappoint in including this knowledge in his music. Without the harmonious addition of the rest of the band, Weiss would undoubtedly have a career in storytelling elsewhere. Not to downplay the entire talent of mewithoutYou of course, because especially on this album they have devoted their hearts to their craft – seemingly a requirement in music, but like anything else it has masters and apprentices and mewithoutYou’s instrumentalists are a fine example of the former.
The album is a chorus-heavy, celebratory rock fest. When I listen to the music on this album I immediately picture a show setting, undoubtedly outdoors in a cool summer breeze, with the audience sitting, swaying to the melodies scattered amongst the comfortable dewy grass. The band has created something different than I’d ever expect from such an electrically driven group – some say they’ve settled into a disappointing mindset of praise, but who ever said the Bible was a crappy book? The stories they convey are not only metaphorical but simply interesting to hear, like a great bed-time story when you were a child, they are comforting and thought provoking, making for fine dreams that night. The instrumentation is more acoustic than ever, but retains the rich sound you’d hear on a record like “Catch For Us The Foxes” or an even better example, “Brother, Sister”. The songs typically open with a simple, quiet sounding Aaron and company and proceed to write a textbook on crescendo. From the happy-go-lucky praise song “Every Thought A Thought Of You” to the album’s undeniable climax (Why not be utterly changed into fire?) on “The King Beetle On A Coconut Estate” the group are undaunted in their efforts to expose their bold views. Listening to this album is a hopeful experience – the fearless songwriting compliments your optimistic side greatly. Even if you feel nothing for the lyrical content, the album can easily carry you off into a euphoric state for it's jubilance.
Weiss’ lyrics are endlessly poetic. His storytelling abilities back in full force for this album, “It’s All Crazy” is brimming with detailed visuals. He tells morality tales in hopes his fans are intelligent enough to decipher his thinly disguised metaphors. Thinly disguised indeed, but hardly lacking – about as effective as Aesop ever was. Of course, Aaron Weiss is not as famous a writer as Aesop so hence his philosophies…think unto others, or spread the wealth of knowledge. Using variables such as vegetables, animals, and insects, Aaron creates a collection of character based stories over the gracefully executed instrumentation. Lyrics that encompass ideals from Christianity to Islamic Sufism, the album is an expansive volume of valuable teachings. The meanings of the fables of course are up to speculation, though basically the album is against the notions of greed, presumption, conformity, disrespect, and things of that sort. What does it encourage? Simply put, trust and happiness, which may seem like an extremely cliché theme for something that is commonly known as religious, but that doesn’t subtract the value of these stories and their effect on the godless mind. A major issue in our society is the lack of trust and happiness, drastically overtaken by aggression and misery on account of preventable happenings that occur because of our lack of trust. People don’t trust anyone anymore, if they aren’t a friend. Step outside onto the sidewalk of a busy city and tell me how many people you think you can ask a favor from without riddling that favor with paranoid conditions, if it isn’t an emergency. What is
an emergency is the ignorance paid to lessons like the ones told on this album, and many others whose mere words could remedy an extremely ill culture. And I do not digress – this album is concerned – happy, but perhaps because it is concerned for the lack thereof.
Instrumentally this album is worth recognition. An acoustic atmosphere that tends to become aggressive and features many climaxes, as orgasmic as one would be for you or me. The band utilizes instruments ranging from the classical guitar to the accordion, with plenty of others in between to construct something of rich, fiery beauty. The aesthetic value of “It’s All Crazy” could be interpreted as equal to gold in a monetary sense. Weiss’ supportive singers perform perfectly, constantly reminding the listener of the harmonious side of such a deeply poetic track (as any of them could be.) The influence of Folk music on this record is omnipresent, undertaking almost a Jeff Mangum style of songwriting, of course dressed up far more epically than anything Mr. Mangum has done, the hints are sprinkled frequently throughout the record. I feel warm when I listen to this, because the music is engaging both mentally and physically – it literally makes you want to get up and dance, an activity I hope to pursue during one of their summer shows. MewithoutYou don’t usually write songs like that, but I’m sure you can tell by the way this record was received that it’s not your typical mewithoutYou. This is in no way a wrongful trait, for the progression of a band is one of the most gorgeous things a fan can experience if it goes smoothly, and one would be hard-pressed in finding something about this album that is rough or jarring, in a bad way. From the guitars to the bass to the drums to everything else, this record is an immersive journey through the bodies of mewithoutYou – the feeling expressed here is nearly unrivaled in modern music, as this album simply bleeds dedication.
Who do I recommend such a masterpiece to? Simply put, if you are a fan of melodies and everything else associated with them it would be a wise move to find this album and listen to it. The gaping hole it leaves in religious music is apparent and may not be filled anytime soon, and when it is perhaps this band will be the one to do it. Spirituality is almost an ever-present aspect of music itself, and to exemplify it so well is an achievement worth noting. MewithoutYou have created one of the finest albums I’ve experienced in years – I am probably more in love with it than they are. The joy of this album is a cherished possession of mine that I would be unwilling to part with – not the physical copy of this album (as if I even have one) but the experience it has allowed me to have. I almost feel religious when I realize how grateful I am for this.