Review Summary: Brother, Sister is a lyrical masterpiece.
While I myself am not a religious man by any stretch of the imagination, I always find myself running into more and more Christian bands that catch my attention. It began when I first started to expand my musical tastes with Underoath. Their album "They're Only Chasing Safety" was wonderfully catchy and had some great lyrics, but not once did it seem like the Christian themes were overly present. I was honestly surprised to be so interested in something that I figured I would dislike off the bat since I'm not exactly warm to the whole "religion" thing. From there I looked more into the genre and found some shockingly great bands, not all necessarily having the same style. But it wasn't until I fell in love with an album by Pennsylvania's mewithoutYou that I realized that the genre can be not only endearing, but absolutely beautiful with it's religious themes.
Even as somebody with an extreme disinterest in the ideals, I was immediately infatuated with mewithoutYou's third studio album "Brother, Sister". They take a step forward from their previous work and incorporate new sounds and instruments to add to the overall feel of the record which shifts speeds and intensity as quick as Aaron Weiss' singing does. Take the tenth track on the record, "In A Market Dimly Lit" for example. At first, it's simply Aaron weakly singing with various instruments softly playing in the background until just after he says "The needles worn the grooves too deep..." where the song explodes into cymbal crashes and Weiss shrieking. It catches you completely off guard but is perfectly done with Aaron doing some of the most impressive emotional singing to be heard on the record. Weiss' vocals sincerely display that raw anger and desperation many times throughout the course of the record.
The softer songs of the album can be referred to as the Spider trilogy since, obviously, they all refer to a different colored spider. Each of the songs are unique in their own sense, despite the fact that they all use the same guitar pattern. The accordion used on "Yellow Spider" is one of the many examples of the different instruments strewn in with the basic band instruments. There's trumpets, harps, accordions and pianos among the drums and guitar which makes each song unique in it's own way aside from Weiss' incomparable lyricism. He uses brilliant metaphors and several bible references in order to paint a picture that is never what it appears to be on the surface. On "O, Porcupine" is where you'll find some of the most memorable lyricism on the record. Aside from the catchy drum beats and guitar riffs you're given wonderful imagery and intelligent wording that Weiss shouts with the perfect amount of intensity and emotion.
"O' Porcupine low in the tree/Your eyes to mine/You'd be well inclined not to mess with me!"
The light rainfall heard in the background of the opening track, "Messes Of Men" immediately introduces a dark environment to the listener. The atmosphere is delicately accentuated by the slow guitar and Weiss' softly spoken words until finally the song breaks into faster paced guitar and drum and Weiss' volume and desperation increases. This song, unfortunately, holds most of the atmosphere on the record -- The rest relying on Weiss' singing and the music; which are both great in their own regards. This is only a slight nitpick with me and hardly takes away from the overall genius of the rest of the record, but I felt it should be addressed.
The album concludes on a strong note with "In A Sweater Poorly Knit". It takes everything that made the last twelve songs great and captures it in a single track. Weiss' lyricism is at top-strength here with more clever bible references and his wonderful use of metaphors. It ties back into the opening track with it's repetition of "I do not exist..." which if taken with the first lines of "Messes Of Men" it makes an intelligent reference and makes you think back to the start of the record, and always makes me want to start listening again from the beginning. Weiss' singing over the soft playing of the harp makes this one of the more musically beautiful on the record.
Whether you're heavily religious or a more spiritually laid back person, you will find something to enjoy on "Brother, Sister". Enjoy intelligent lyrics riddled with metaphors? See "The Dryness and The Rain". Enjoy atmospherically dark and intense music? See "Messes of Men". Enjoy impressive musicianship and incorporation of various instruments to create a wonderful backdrop? See "In A Sweater Poorly Knit". Enjoy all of the above? See mewithoutYou's album "Brother, Sister". It will be one of the best post-hardcore listens you'll have and will have you enjoying it for hours upon hours.