mewithoutYou
Ten Stories


5.0
classic

Review

by Alex Trinkner CONTRIBUTOR (73 Reviews)
May 14th, 2012 | 67 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Well if your pacific rivers all run dry, their clouds will fill my loud corrupted sky. And if the pleasures of your heavens ever end that very ladder just as well descends

2009’s It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright! created a definite schism between mewithoutYou fans. It seemed as though the stripped down, folky approach to their music brought about only two emotions; Love and Hate. Seeing as It’s All Crazy.. was the album that got me into to mewithoutYou, I of course belonged to the former. (Sans Fig With A Bellyache. I struggle to even listen to that song from start to finish.) After leaving their long time record label Tooth and Nail, mewithoutYou opted to instead self-release their 5th studio album Ten Stories, an album that was self-proclaimed “more of a guitar driven record [than It’s All Crazy.”

Ten Stories has been heralded as a ‘return to form’ for the Philadelphia based genre-bending foursome and one could see how that could be argued. But Ten Stories is more of a permutation; there are aspects to be found from all four of mewithoutYou’s past LP’s. (Yes, even [ A -*B Life], if only in the occasional mention of the loss of love.) The frantic opener “February, 1878” harkens back to the days of Catch For Us The Foxes with the boisterous yells of Aaron Weiss, pounding drums of Rickie Mazzotta and the pulsing bass line. But a deeper look into the song itself shows the perfect example of why this album perfectly blends every positive aspect that mewithoutYou has to offer. The reverb-filled and hard-hitting guitars have returned along with the yelling, but at the same time the lyrics stray more into the realm of fables and storytelling.

Straying from the more personal lyrics in the past, Weiss instead chooses to create a story of a circus train crash circa 1878 and the subsequent trials and tribulations of the animal passengers. But don’t let this description conjure up images of campfire songs about elephants and tigers singing together happily; there is an unprecedented darkness to be found throughout nearly all 11 tracks. Nearly each song, in some small way delves into the topic of death/suicide. The loosely based concept serves as a medium for Weiss to speak freely of the problems and suffering he endures without placing too much focus on himself. There is still a copious amount of thought-provoking lyrics found during the course of Ten Stories. But with this release we find mewithoutYou not being afraid to include lines such as “Did you come knocking on my door or did I come to yours? Whose ship came washed up on whose shore?” in the same song as “Well maybe there’ll be a bakery hiring – we’ll knead some dough to get by” It’s this self-awareness and willingness to say exactly what they were thinking that has caused countless people to fall in love with the music and lyrics of mewithoutYou.

But, personally, the most interesting thematic aspect of these stories and lyrics is the reoccurring idea of ‘I’ and what exactly ‘I’ represents. The sense of self searching has been present in every mewithoutYou release, be it the opening and closing lyrics of Brother, Sister or the rumination on religion on the massive track “Carousel”. Aaron Weiss and company always seem to be grasping for a sense of self-worth, or at the very least self-understanding. And this release sees no determent in this search, although we do see Weiss seeming to become content with the fact that he might never know the answers to these questions. We first see this fleeting concept of what ‘I’ really is during the final chorus of “Cardiff Giant” as Weiss sings “I often wonder if I’ve already died or if the ‘I’ is an unintelligible lie.” This contemplation carries through into “Elephant In The Dock” when we hear “Yes, my body did just as you imply while some ghost we’ll call ‘I’ idly watched through its eyes.” And in this is where I myself can find such a personal bond with music that hundreds of thousands of people have also heard; Aaron Weiss has questions, questions that nearly every human being at one point has asked himself, and he has yet to find answers to these questions… Even ten years later. And he is seemingly becoming content with the fact that he may not ever know the undefinable answers to these unfathomable questions.

Pertaining to musical aspect of Ten Stories, “February, 1878” (along with “Fox’s Dream Of The Log Flume”) seem to almost serve as songs to remind listeners that this band who once screamed “Let Us Die, Let Us Die” still had the energy and aggression to appease even the most downtrodden of fans. If one was to take out these two tracks, they would find a more indie-rock album with well placed, occasional shouts yells and mumbles amidst a “pop” record. And trust me; the word ‘pop’ is used in the loosest sense of the term. Songs such as “Grist For The Malady Mill” or “Cardiff Giant” manage to integrate sailing choruses and melodies with passionate and moody lyrics. “Fiji Mermaid” treads gaily along with the aforementioned bakery pun and talks of asparagus while containing one of the more aggressive endings on the entire album.

Aggression and passion is found in every single song Ten Stories has to offer, but nowhere as predominantly as in the track” Fox’s Dream Of The Log Flume”. A single glance at the lyrics book would show this entire song is based off of a song Bear and Fox have whilst riding the Ferris wheel at Asbury Park. But once the listener takes the time to appreciate the song, it becomes more than just a conversation between two fictional characters at a carnival. The song seems to chronicle the misfortune of the narrator’s love life and subsequent thoughts of suicide. Fox’s Dream is without a doubt one of the better songs to be found in the entire mewithoutYou catalog.

I feel as though there is a need to at least mention every song, because every song contains parts that just flat out manage to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Be it the climatic ending of “Bear’s Vision of St. Agnes” or the ominous tone of “East Enders Wives”, every single song manages to find a way to captivate listeners throughout the intricate and detailed journey through the lives of Fox, Bear, Tiger and the entire bevy of fascinating animals who had the misfortune to be passengers on the woeful train.



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user ratings (522)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
robin EMERITUS (4)
my brother and my sister don't speak to me / but I don't blame them...

rmill3r (3)
Ten Stories is a return to form, yet perhaps not the most bombastic movement we've come to expect fr...

Matthew D. French (4)
A welcome nod to past ideas....


Comments:Add a Comment 
atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2012


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well here is my first review in over a year.. I hope it's still up to standards of this site now. I
just thoroughly enjoyed this cd. Along with every mewithoutYou cd. So yeah.. Don't be too harsh with
this..

If anyone could help point out some grammatical errors and what not that'd be nice..



atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2012


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Whoops i forgot to mention my favorite song.... Nine Stories is just purely amazing


Three votes and i still don't have comment? how does that work?

Eko
May 13th 2012


2119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha I knew you would come back to review this. 4th paragraph is brilliant, pos.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2012


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah my next review will probably be the next mewithoutyou cd lol. But thanks man. It actually took me awhile to write that. I didn't know quite how to phrase it.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2012


4424 Comments


Great review. POS'd.

Eko
May 13th 2012


2119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've had a difficult time trying to articulate it as well, but Weiss has definitely shifted in where he's writing from personally over the years

guitarnater
May 13th 2012


917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was beginning to wonder what you might think of this album...well.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2012


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Eko yeah i know what you're saying. I mean, i still love all of his lyrics though.

@guitarnater: I'm pretty sure everyone who even knows who i am a little bit knew this was going to be a five ha

guitarnater
May 13th 2012


917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I kind of figured, but you never know, some people just turn on even their favorite bands sometimes.

KeithStone582
May 13th 2012


1480 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This was inevitable.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2012


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well i was going to wait until it was released officially on tuesday to write this, but seeing as my local record store apparently started selling this today i thought it was almost as good a time as any

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2012


15993 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I still haven't listened to this in full but I am going to on its exact release date. From what I've read and heard this will be my favorite mewithoutyou

Digging: Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2012


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That's what i told myself i was going to do.. But as soon as it streamed i couldn't help myself ha. But yeah. it's pretty good. I can't think of one song i don't love on this. Maybe aubergine, but it's growing on me

KeithStone582
May 13th 2012


1480 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

aubergine is by far the weakest track.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2012


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I would agree with that, but i was just listening to it and its getting better every time. The transition to fox's dream is flawless though

KeithStone582
May 13th 2012


1480 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I completely agree, and Fox's dream is my favorite song so aubergine is never skipped.

guitarnater
May 13th 2012


917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm listening to this now. It must be a grower, I'm not getting a whole lot, but this is my favorite band and it took me forever to appreciate Brother, Sister.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2012


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Wait until you get to the second half.. Namely Fox's Dream. I feel like you'll love that. But if you want to know a secret i actually hated mewithoutyou the first few times i listened to them like 4 years ago ha

KeithStone582
May 13th 2012


1480 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

yeah, it's a grower.

guitarnater
May 13th 2012


917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I hated them too a little more than a year ago. Look where we are now haha



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