mewithoutYou
Ten Stories


3.0
good

Review

by rmill3r USER (26 Reviews)
May 11th, 2012 | 15 replies | 2,248 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ten Stories is a return to form, yet perhaps not the most bombastic movement we've come to expect from Aaron Weiss's poetry-producing machine.

MewithoutYou are a tricky band when it comes to pleasing fans. Beginning as an agressive (yet thoughtful) post-hardcore band, the Judeo-Christian Pennsylvania group has always had something brimming on the surface needing to be released, all from the trademark monotone talk-singing voice of the leading man, Aaron Weiss. So when they began incorporating more indie and folk elements into the mix the fan base had one of two options: hop on the bandwagon and join the ride, or stick their stubbornly blind foot in the ground in the name of genre loyalty. And for those who stuck along for the ride, they were rewarded with the crowning jewel(s) of Brother, Sister and Catch For Us the Foxes.

But when mewithoutYou released their last album, the full-on indie-folk It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright!, it was met by most fans with only moderate appreciation. The strong lean toward the folk atmosphere sounded like mewithoutYou was trying to make it seem like they recorded the album while sitting around a camp fire. Hence, the new release, Ten Stories is a proposed "return to form," or perhaps "return to mix," and it has some fans itching with anticipation. Ten Stories is their self-released album that tries to blend the original post-hardcore sensibility with the current admiration for indie and folk foundation. And while it succeeds on quite a few levels, there's also this nagging issue where the band feels like trying too hard to mix their influences, just like it once sounded like they were trying too to lean in one direction or the other.

"February, 1878" is a fantastic opening. It is the cumulative response to the post-hardcore-meets-indie vibe they've strived for, and it is also a foil song to their popular "January 1979" from Catch For Us the Foxes. While it incorporates a similar melody, Weiss sings about a train wreck from the 19th Century rather than a car crash from the 20th, and that begins the supposed theme threaded throughout Ten Stories. In a similar vein to It's All Crazy!, some of these songs are told from the viewpoint of animals, but where the former album actually referenced real Sufi mythology, Ten Stories tends to come up with some situations that Weiss wanted to sing about and animals happen to be the medium, such as the nameless rabbit, fox, bear, walrus and peacock on the catchy "Grist for the Malady Mill." And when it comes to the out-of-place "Aubergine," Weiss finds himself singing about colors, sugars, eggplants, syrups and other stark (yet perhaps misguided) flowery images. Personally, I'm a sucker for definite, concrete imagery, but too much of Ten Stories sounds like a game of Madlibs where Weiss is just trying to find out newer creative ways of mixing words and images together. And that's probably the most disappointing downfall of the album, because Weiss's charasmatic lyrics and delivery have always been the binding thread throughout mewithoutYou's career.

Still, an arc in the album does exist, and when "Grist For the Malady Mill" seamlessly leads into "East Enders Wives," or when "Bears Vision of St. Agnes" suddenly becomes the closing song "All Circles," there is a wholistic feel to the album that's very much appreciated. Regardless of whether or not Ten Stories lives up to the potential the fan base knows they're capable of, it at least still shows that the band has a knack for well thought out composition. Songs like "Elephant in the Dock" and "Bears Vision of St. Agnes" transition from softer, reflective pieces to big, emotionally filling finales within themselves. Moments like those are part of what make the album worth it.

"Fox's Dream of the Log Flume" is one of the shining tracks on the album. Just like "February, 1878," it's a proper blend of mewithoutYou's varying genre interests. And when the speaker of the song mistakenly tells his love interest how he fantasizes about pushing children off of ferris wheels, he quicly retracts his statement when he finds out she doesn't feel the same way. It's an interesting look at how we frame ourselves in public, and Paramore's Hayley Williams guest vocals for the first ever male-female duet the band has ever done. Masked against Weiss's grainy talk-singing voice Williams gives a nice balance to the mix. Also, "All Circles" is a proper finish to the album as a whole. The climactic line: "All circles presuppose / They end where they begin / But only in their leaving can they ever come back 'round" sounds like the band comes full "circle," especially with the extravagant chants of choruses.

Ten Stories is certainly a return to form, yet it also lands a little short of the intended target. By blending post-hardcore roots and indie-folk flaires, mewithoutYou have sort of stripped both genres of what worked for them in the first place. (The lack of Weiss's strong story-driven narrative doesn't help the case either.) And while there are illuminating moments worth picking from this new album, the start-to-finish scope lacks the push and guts that Brother, Sister and Catch for Us the Foxes once had. And bands shouldn't underestimate guts; guts make music worth listening to in the first place.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
rmill3r
May 11th 2012


167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I know there are some typos and errors right now, but Sputnik isn't letting me edit at the moment -__-

Gyromania
May 11th 2012


15679 Comments


Definitely a slew or errors, but a fine review nonetheless.

One thing though:

"February, 1878" is a fantastic opening. It is the cumulative response to the post-hardcore-meets-indie vibe they've strived for, and it is also a foil song to their popular "January 1979" from Catch For Us the Foxes.


foil? Do you mean to say that "February 1878" by contrast enhances the characteristics of "January 1979"? Because if not, then I'm lost, and even if you do mean that, I'm still a little lost... There is no relation between those two songs other than that they're both dates in time.

ThroneOfAgony
May 11th 2012


3485 Comments


great review but atrocious band

Xenophanes
Emeritus
May 11th 2012


10593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah foil doesn't really make sense here...like, I see what you're trying to do but it really doesn't work.

rmill3r
May 11th 2012


167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

When I'm finally able to edit, I'll use "mirror" or something along those lines, because I agree. But, Gyromania, how do you not see the relation? MewithoutYou have done "Nice and Blue" and "Nice and Blue Pt. 2," "Bullet to Binary" and "Bullet to Binary (Pt. 2)" and now "January, 1979" and "February, 1878." They're both songs about specific events on specific dates and they both involve some sort of automobile wreck. It's definitely been a pattern with the band.

Gyromania
May 11th 2012


15679 Comments


"January 1979" is Aaron Weiss' day of birth, and as such, lines like "it was a terrible crash" are metaphorical (well, I'm willing to bet they are). Remember, at the time he was still focusing heavily on religious themes - specifically his struggle with the acceptance of god - so a line like that is probably a reference to The Mythical Fall in that it preaches the inescapable nature of sin. Other such lines references how many people will never know what it's like to be wealthy. "February 1878" sets up a fantastical, fictional story about an elephant derailing a train full of circus animals and draws parallels to Casey Jones. Sorry, I don't see it as a "mirror" at all.

ti0n
May 11th 2012


1390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review! pos'd

What do you think about "Cardiff Giant" miller? Would like to hear an opinion of you, cause i love that song.

Digging: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

Gyromania
May 11th 2012


15679 Comments


Other than their titles being dates in time, there is absolutely no relation imo.

rmill3r
May 11th 2012


167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ti0n, yeah, there were so many things I wanted to say about all of the songs, but the review was just getting too long so I cut some things out . . .

"Cardiff Giant" reminded me a lot of the It's All Crazy! album. Weiss's vocals had this sort of elongated Jeff Mangum thing going on that was pretty cool. But overall, most of it was a little bit like happy background noise to me :/

Then again, that jazzy guitar outro was done quite well.

Scoot
May 11th 2012


17748 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

album is a grower

doesn't even come close to brother, sister or cfutf

KeithStone582
May 11th 2012


1480 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

good review. Foxes dream of the log flume is probably my favority song this year.

rmill3r
May 11th 2012


167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@Scoot, it's funny . . . I actually thought the opposite. When I first listened all the way, I was fully prepared for a 4/4.5 review, and then after a few more listens it just grew off me real quick. Weird :/

Scoot
May 11th 2012


17748 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah that's the best song here

Mike08
May 12th 2012


607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Solid review, I agree for the most part but this is a quality release never the less. (Not pertaining to Ten Stories) I feel sometimes I am unfair to bands that I think they are great. There is a tradeoff though, When they release an album and fail I am more disappointed, but its because I also respect them more.

rmill3r
May 14th 2012


167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

PUBLISHED here: http://thedropp.com/dropps/ear-dropps/2012/05/album-review-mewithoutyou-ten-stories/



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