Review Summary: The eye of the storm.
In the closing moments of ‘Rainbow Signs’, all hell breaks loose. Literally
. Weiss sings about the opening of the fourth seal, which as it relates to the biblical book of Revelation
, is basically the start of the apocalypse. We’re talking about horrific death and destruction beyond our ability to comprehend, yet Weiss is still able to capture it perfectly. Like a movie based upon a book, ‘Rainbow Signs’ even keeps the details accurate to Christian text: the sky opens up like a scroll, the sun turns black, and the horsemen ride out. Curiously, that’s not where the song ends though; with Weiss instead choosing to bring things down a notch to this softly muttered inside joke that he once shared with his late father. With this [untitled]
EP, it feels like a continuation of that still frame. It’s meek and modest compared to where Pale Horses
almost left off, and as listeners, it feels like we’re caught in the eye of a hurricane. Behind us lies the wake of Pale Horses
, and on the horizon, there’s the rumbling thunder of the allegedly furious [Untitled]
LP. The (also) [untitled]
EP is a pleasant little reprieve from all the carnage.
When lining up ‘Rainbow Signs’ and ‘Bethlehem, WV’ in succession, the transition feels perfectly arranged. Weiss’ quip about that secret Abrahamic joke is met by the line, “Dad used to talk about for days, I finally tasted what he meant”, and the acoustic guitars ring out resplendently as if to proclaim one last sunrise. Angelic sounding ahh ahh
’s chime in like rays of light beaming through the clouds, and it feels – for the first time since Ten Stories
– as if there is hope for the world. Even predictions of impending doom are greeted with a silver lining: “soon our ransomed souls will leave this age behind for streets of solid gold.” It’s far from a peace promise, though. Within this alternate reality that mewithoutYou have crafted, they avoid the campy optimism of It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright!
. The overarching atmosphere is more akin to Ten Stories
stripped down; these weighty philosophical topics broken down to their bare bones for examination. There’s even a few historical references to World War II, namely dates in August – the third and the sixth – which mark the days in which Germany and France declared war upon each other, as well as when the United States bombed Hiroshima, respectively. Needless to say, this is not any sort of exercise in undue positivity, but rather a pause to reflect upon where it all went wrong – and ultimately, how we arrived on the edge of destruction.
is dreamy, ambient, and predominantly acoustic. The seven songs unfold like a stream of consciousness storytelling, with ‘Winter Solstice’ serving up a reflective and vaguely apocalyptic tone (“for the nights when our trumpets won’t blow”…“all the stars on the ground, Noah’s ark in the clouds”) to gentle strumming, while ‘Kristy w/ the Sparkling Teeth’ also thrives on the strength of its melody, featuring an acoustic guitar line which serves as the closest thing to a hook on an album that’s noticeably absent of choruses. The most surprising departure comes on the combination of ‘Cities on the Plain’ and ‘Existential Dread, Six Hours’ Time’, two tracks where mewithoutYou venture into previously uncharted drone/ambient territory and pull it off like seasoned veterans of the genre. ‘August 6th’ is the closest they come to breaking out of the haze, where there’s a noticeably heightened percussive presence and an overall uptick in tempo and energy. It’s appropriate though, considering that the lyrical content focuses on Hiroshima both pre
is essentially a series of hefty topics discussed over tea. It’s one’s “life flashing before their eyes”
, if that person were society and his/her life were the history of the world. The extended play is a time-out, this calm pool of thoughts that aren’t necessarily pleasant but that need to be reflected upon before the end. It truly is the calm both after
the storm and before
the next one. It feels purposely out-of-tune with the urgency of these times, almost as if to temporarily retreat inward – to keep one’s thoughts focused and organized. It’s lower case [untitled]
for a reason. The storm is coming, and mewithoutYou is bracing for it. Or perhaps not even preparing, and just taking one last moment to look at a timeline of human history – for all its beauty and carnage – and appreciate it. Can you hear the trumpets, off in the distance？
. May G-d have mercy on us all.