mewithoutYou
Ten Stories


5.0
classic

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
November 21st, 2016 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Thoughts, and things.

In a decade like the 2010s, where it seems like everything that could possibly be said through music has already been penned, chancing upon a piece as enlightening as Ten Stories is the musical equivalent of discovering your favorite author/poet/philosopher and wondering how you ever made sense of life beforehand. They’re basically the seven wise men of hardcore turned indie-rock, with a great deal of that credit going to front man Aaron Weiss for his creative role in the songwriting process. We’ve seen mewithoutYou deliver the urgent, spewed shouts of a madman during the final months of a global apocalypse via Brother, Sister, as well as happy-go-lucky, campfire fable sing-alongs that would not be out of place at a church picnic on It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright. Simply put, these guys write what they want to, when they want to. However, if the aforementioned releases represent extreme ends of their artistic capabilities, then Ten Stories is the album that sees them rest back into their chairs and simply observe, crafting in the process the most pensive, intellectual album of their careers that reads like an indie-rock philosopher’s take on modern times.

Of course, like any great poetry, Ten Stories is ripe with metaphors and various allusions that require a great deal of analysis and interpretation – after all, this isn’t really an album about a bunch of animals that escaped from a wrecked circus train (for a full disambiguation, listen to the whole record with the lyrics pulled up and draw your own conclusions). My favorite reference point has always been ‘Elephant In The Dock’, which is about – among a multitude of items – society’s hatred for that which they cannot understand, including but not limited to God and religion (or any higher purpose/deity, for argument’s sake). In this story, the elephant can possibly represents knowledge and/or that said higher purpose, as he poses probing thoughts such as “for sixty-so years I've surrendered my love to emblems of kindness, and not the kindness they were emblems of”; only to have an angry mob call for him to be hung. As the rabble prepares for his execution, the wise elephant gets in another particularly telling passage: “this mock trial can no more determine my lot, than can driftwood determine the ocean's waves” – a line that has directly led to comparisons with C.S. Lewis’ God In The Dock, a collection of speeches and essays that speculate modern human beings, rather than seeing themselves as standing before God in judgment, instead place God on trial while acting as his judge…implying more of a “God In The Dock.” Whether you interpret it as an assault on knowledge by the ignorant or an attack on religion by the immoral, ‘Elephant In The Dock’ is one of the most thought-provoking and ethically compelling tracks ever written by mewithoutYou.

‘Fox’s Dream Of The Log Flume’ marks another particularly intense philosophical juncture, waxing poetic about certainty and its implications on the human psyche. At one point, Weiss exclaims “though some, with certainty, insist 'no certainty exists' – well I'm certain enough of this: in the past 14 years, there's only one girl I've kissed” with fervor; a mess of ideas on the surface but not anything unworthy of being untangled. It’s likely no accident that the track falls in such close proximity to ‘Elephant In The Dock’ (only one track separates them), as knowledge, religion, and certainty all exist on the same imaginary plane of ideas. Seeming unsure about the idea of certainty is in itself a bit of an oxymoron, one that Weiss – unsurprisingly given his public admission of Christian faith – once again applies to the concept of whether or not there is a God: “So by now I think it's pretty obvious that there's no God…and there's definitely a God!” It’s worth noting that he expresses equal certainty in both instances: first that he’s only kissed one girl, and second that there is definitely a God. Even though one can be proven and one can’t, they are both facts based on his perception. It’s a bit dizzying in premise, made all the more maddening (and appropriate) by the fact that the song never really gets to the bottom of the religiously based questions that it poses. Claims of certainty aside, ‘Fox’s Dream Of The Log Flume’ exudes total uncertainty about everything. Hayley Williams’ backing vocals are stunning here though, and that’s for certain.

Each track on here serves as its own parable of sorts, hence the title Ten Stories. Firmly entrenched in melodic indie-rock, the band shows a clear departure from both the hardcore stylings of [A→B] Life/Catch For Us The Foxes as well as the all-out Sunday school blitzkrieg that was It’s All Crazy, It’s All False…. Despite their rocky navigation of genres, mewithoutYou have always remained relevant because of their lyrics, and that aspect of their music is perhaps never stronger than it is on Ten Stories. For avid enthusiasts of words and their impact, this album is practically essential – each song is a little piece of knowledge, expressed through a variety of literary devices that would make even your most dismissive inner philosopher pleased. mewithoutYou aren’t without a sense of irony however, as they present an eleventh “story” that ruins what could have been a direct correlation between tracklisting and album title. ‘All Circles’ wraps things up with the repetition of two sentences, yet they serve as one of the band’s most intriguing thoughts over the entire course of the record: “All circles presuppose they'll end where they begin…but only in their leaving can they ever come back around.” This is sung over and over, or cyclically, until Ten Stories ends and the album picks back up where it began. Clever bastards.



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user ratings (683)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
November 21st 2016


22553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

2 more to go to 300 reviews.



Sometimes this is my favorite mwY.

Digging: Childish Gambino - "Awaken, My Love!"

jtswope
November 21st 2016


4936 Comments


Nice. What's 300 gonna be then?

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 21st 2016


22553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Not sure honestly. Possibly American Idiot. Maybe One of my other 5's.

Rigma
November 21st 2016


35 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Solid LP, but doesn't have the same kind of magic in it as Brother, Sister for me. Maybe I need to give it some more listens.

Digging: Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 21st 2016


22553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Nah B,S is the better album



Some of the lyrics on this album just tickle me

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 21st 2016


22553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Also Bear's Vision of St Agnes is one of my favorite mwy songs ever

dbizzles
November 21st 2016


5268 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also Bear's Vision of St Agnes is one of my favorite mwy songs ever [2]

Digging: Cult Of Fire - Life, Sex & Death

heyadam
November 21st 2016


1879 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

god yes.



I'm glad you love this record. I never know where to put it in their discography though. It's All Crazy! has jumped all the way up the list for me behind B,S, so I think this might be my third favorite mwY.

Digging: Nine Inch Nails - Not the Actual Events

dbizzles
November 22nd 2016


5268 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Man, I can't get on board with It's All Crazy! There are only 3 or 4 good songs and everything else is just... weak.

heyadam
November 22nd 2016


1879 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For some reason it just resonated with me. It's so ridiculously genuine. Every Thought a Thought of You helped me through a super dark season of my life, so I have a lot of personal investment into that record haha.

dbizzles
November 22nd 2016


5268 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I get personal attachment and I won't ever say you're wrong when it comes to ranking mwY since it's kind of a hot debate. I actually might like it better than A==>B Life and I know that's blasphemous around hear, but I really didn't click with mwY until B,S.

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 22nd 2016


22553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

B,S is definitely what got me into these guys. This took a bit longer to appreciate but over time as the words sunk in it became a done deal. All their albums are excellent.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2016


22087 Comments


Slick write-up, looking forward to your big 300 as well

Just a small catch on par 2: "the elephant can possibly represent"

Digging: Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness

Taxt
November 24th 2016


916 Comments


This isn't my favorite mewithoutYou album, but Fox's Dream of the Log Flume is one of my favorite songs ever.
AND THEY'RE HOWLING FOR ANSWERS
NO WOLF CAN KNOW!

heyadam
November 26th 2016


1879 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Right after that when he's like "I CHARGED AT THE WAVE, A GLASS IN MY HAND!" gets me so hype. That song in general is so good.



Also Elephant in the Dock is just haunting. It bums me out, but it's such a good track.

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 27th 2016


22553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

me too



so many genius one-liners throughout this album in general

Gyromania
November 27th 2016


21444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Worst mwy album by a mile. Nay, by a thousand miles. Aubergine, elephant, mermaid, etc are just straight up awful

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 27th 2016


22553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

what no way. esp not elephant dude

Gyromania
November 27th 2016


21444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Such a boring chorus

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 27th 2016


22553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

mwy aren't like, known for huge choruses lol.



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