mewithoutYou
Ten Stories


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matthew D. French USER (50 Reviews)
May 9th, 2012 | 120 replies | 9,177 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A welcome nod to past ideas.

11 of 12 thought this review was well written

As a devout mewithoutYou fan I have to admit I was kind of taken aback by the band’s previous album when I first heard it. Their decision to do away with their signature brand of post-hardcore in favour of folksy, baroque-pop numbers initially seemed like an ill-conceived plan, and even though they managed to ruffle some feathers in changing their style, the fanciful whimsy of It’s All Crazy! It’s All False!... eventually had a spellbinding hold on me. See, despite some of the criticisms fans of the band lobbed at It’s All Crazy! It’s All False... for being uninspired, a miscalculated ode to campfire sing-alongs (this is my personal favourite), etc., that album proved a pivotal point to all of the naysayers: mewithoutYou is a band incapable of being pigeonholed. They’ve been drastically changing their core sound from album to album, but their previous one marked a stark departure: all of a sudden, the band that brought us the emotionally charged [A--> B] Life was playing in the vein of Neutral Milk Hotel, and people were stunted. Aaron Weiss, a man once entrenched in writing on themes of loss and pain, was writing about fictional portrayals of insects and animals. Aside the quizzical nature of it all, the only real carryover seemed to be the religious connotations in the lyrics. It was unlikely that they’d keep to the fantastical storytelling angle of It’s All Crazy! It’s All False!... though - they’re a band discontent with sticking to the same formula. So, the question seems like an obvious one: Where have the beloved purveyors of post-hardcore decided to go this time?

Well, answering that is a little tricky. Ten Stories is an allegorical representation of a fictional train crash filled with circus animals in 19th century Montana. Lead single and first song “February 1878” illustrates the story of this circus train being derailed in the icy Pacific Northwest by an elephant. The album chronicles the tales of select characters as they seek refuge and figure out what to do in the aftermath of said wreckage. So, while it already sounds like it sets itself up to be another whimsical tale that’ll no doubt play out similarly to their previous record, it’s a surprisingly welcome nod to past ideas. Contrary to what’s been circulating via the net, Ten Stories sounds nothing like [A--> B] Life or Brother, Sister, but songs like “February 1878” and “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume” unmistakably hearken back to the days of Catch For Us the Foxes.

I like to think of Ten Stories as an album divided into two halves: the first half being very pop-centric (barring “February 1878”), and the latter being a revisitation of some of mewithoutYou’s post-hardcore roots, as well as a plunge into a more atmospheric mood. The album opens up with a nod to mewithoutYou’s heavier stuff, otherwise tracks two through six are maddeningly infectious and peppy. It’s an interesting divide: “Grist for the Malady Mill” is bar-none the catchiest song in the band’s repertoire to date, what with its propulsive drumming and chorus shouts: ‘Ain’t it an awful shame?/Don’t it just break your heart to hear so much pain!?” - if it weren’t so poppy it would sound like a raucous pub number. Elsewhere, the poppier songs are either hit or miss, and the consensus is bound to be that the latter half of the album is better. “Elephant in the Dock” is sullied by a disappointingly bland chorus and “Cardiff Giant” trods gaily along without much notice, despite the lovely guitar work -- it’s a little too breezy for its own good. Ten Stories doesn’t truly hit its stride and urge on until “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume,” when we’re treated to the edgier side of mewithoutYou we’ve all come to know and love, and even though nothing ever quite compares to it, the latter half of the album is chock-full of vocal harmonies, jubilant horns, and stepped-up guitar riffing. Every song is different and engaging in its own right. "Bear's Vision of St. Agnes" opens with horns that sound like they were lifted from some silent noir film and eventually the song segues into a gorgeous conclusion of horns, strings, and vocal corals. "Aubergine" is the slow-trod centrepiece of the album: it's airy, atmospheric, and just generally soothing. There's enough variance on Ten Stories to attract a large audience.

Aaron Weiss is still as skillful a songwriter as he’s ever been, and he hammers lines with a deft display of conviction. Although Ten Stories is a fictional concept record revolving around an absurdly quirky premise that ultimately sees Weiss stepping outside of the persona he’s created for himself, the struggle with accepting God is an ongoing and integral part of his writing, subtle as it may seem even when he’s omitting the veil: “I don’t know if I know/Though some with certainty insist no certainty exists!” (“Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume”). Weiss still employs the use of metaphor in his writing, but Ten Stories seems like a great middle-ground between the old and the new; Weiss never comes across as suffocatingly abstract or reminiscent, it’s seemingly a perfect blend. Songs like “Elephant in the Dock,” “Nine Stories,” and “Cardiff Giant” might detract from the album’s momentum, but Ten Stories is undeniably an acceptable and wholeheartedly enjoyable segue from It’s All Crazy! It’s All False!.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Gyromania
May 9th 2012



14631 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Originally posted here: http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/2012/05/mewithoutyou-ten-stories.html

My interview with the band can be found here: http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/2012/04/mewithoutyou-interview.html

Album stream: http://mewithoutyou.com/home/

PS: Anyone else think that album art to the right is far better than the actual album art (which I still love, just sayin')?

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2012



4334 Comments


Good review. POS
also I think "It's all Crazy" was based on Sufi mythology for the most part, and I thought it was decent, 3.5/5. Anyway I will check this out.

also I agree with you about that picture in the stream website, I do like it much more than the cover.

Gyromania
May 9th 2012



14631 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

PaperbackWriter: Cheers. Tell me what you think of the album after you hear it.

HBFS
May 9th 2012



1214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

grist for the malady mill and fox's dream of the log flume are definitely up there with the best songs from their past albums. such a great album.

Gyromania
May 9th 2012



14631 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, those are probably my two favourites at the moment.

theacademy
May 9th 2012



27668 Comments


is there a song witgh hayley williams? if yes, please let me know which song. if no, please ignore this comment.

HBFS
May 9th 2012



1214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

also, that guitar tone that comes in halfway through bear's vision of st. agnes is fucking magical.

HBFS
May 9th 2012



1214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah, fox's dream of the log flume.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2012



4334 Comments


@theacademy
it's "Fox's Dream of the Log Flume"

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2012



4334 Comments


This is a really good album, I've listened to most of it and it's definitely feeling like a 4 to me.

theacademy
May 9th 2012



27668 Comments


ah, many thanks

Gyromania
May 9th 2012



14631 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

acad: I actually didn't notice it was her at first, but she delivers a pretty good performance. Let me know what you think of it.

Emim
May 9th 2012



26195 Comments


yay

theacademy
May 9th 2012



27668 Comments


interesting... not what i expected when i heard she was guesting

Scoot
May 9th 2012



17477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

'tis a grower for sure

Digging: Acme - To Reduce the Choir to One Soloist

Slum
May 9th 2012



2579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

was disappointed at first, but it's growing pretty rapidly on me. Grist for the Malady Hill is one of the best songs

Scoot
May 9th 2012



17477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

same, i think i was a little surprised at the lack of heavier songs

this is definitely better than it's all crazy

Motiv3
May 9th 2012



8405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

album rules

Gyromania
May 9th 2012



14631 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0



Xenophanes
Emeritus
May 9th 2012



10553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Love the review and love this album. However, music being lifted from a "silent" film seems contradictory imo.

Digging: Saintseneca - Dark Arc



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