mewithoutYou
[Untitled]


5.0
classic

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
September 28th, 2018 | 1961 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: [...]

[Untitled] blows in with the force of a category five hurricane. ‘9:27a.m., 7/29’ is as vicious and ugly as Aaron Weiss has sounded since A->B Life, or perhaps ever. It’s the kind of introduction that sends a message, much like how Brand New’s ‘Vices’ immediately made clear the motives of Daisy. In this case, however, the raucous start comes as little surprise. mewithoutYou has long been planning for [Untitled] to be the chaotic successor to the tranquil [untitled] EP…or the jackal in the sheep flock, as Weiss sings in the album’s opening verse. Somewhat surprising, on the other hand, is how mewithoutYou achieves [Untitled]’s boasted heaviness. Despite several moments where Weiss totally loses his shit – and I mean almost beyond recognition – he actually ends up screaming less here than he did on A->B Life. The seventh full-length is more intense than it is loud, and the band wisely bides its time – planting indecipherable screams and discordant, experimental riffs like landmines in a field. The underlying sense of urgency – combined with these sudden, panicked spikes – creates a consistently unsettled feeling. The result is mewithoutYou’s most tense and visceral creation.

There’s a wayward progression to this record that evades comfort, familiarity, and order. The way that [Untitled] shifts gears between harmony and raucousness, often abruptly, can be a little bit disorienting. ‘9:27a.m., 7/29’ kicks down the door, whereas ‘Julia’ is a far more balanced affair, alternating between sludgy/raw guitar work, muted screams, and lyrical references to George Orwell’s 1984. ‘Another Head for Hydra’ feels like mewithoutYou during their Brother, Sister heyday, riding their post-hardcore tendencies to a dramatically shouted conclusion. All of this is followed by a five track stretch until we even get another scream out of Aaron. The juxtaposition of styles feels careless upon initial inspection, but over time it could be recognized as an essential aspect of the album’s overarching atmosphere: one of general confusion and disorder. Weaving unpredictably between melodic tunes and all-out barn burners, [Untitled] assumes a rather entropic identity throughout.

There is a prolonged soft center that is as thoroughly gripping as anything else here. From ‘[dormouse sighs]’ to ‘2,459 Miles’, we are presented with some of the band’s most memorable melodies and intricate experiments to date – even if they don’t bring down the house with any gut-wrenching screams. ‘Winter Solstice’ and ‘Flee, Thou Matadors!’ most obviously demonstrate the former, espousing choruses worthy of daily recitation and harmonies that would not have been all that out of place on Ten Stories. ‘[dormouse sighs]’ and ‘Tortoises All The Way Down’ are less memorable but more intriguing from a songwriting perspective, with the first sounding like a religious incantation (“fire and a flood, there’s power in the blood”) and the second building ever-so-gradually to a ‘Luca’-like crescendo of “everybody knows…what you’ve done”, accompanied by thunderous drums and dirty, groovy electric riffs. As the quietest song on the record, ‘2,459 Miles’ actually feels like the odd number out – it’s like an even more hushed ‘Dorothy’ that serves primarily as a bridge back into the mayhem spawned by ‘Wendy & Betsy.’ These five songs are easy to dismiss as secondary to the record’s ferocious beginning and end, but they also have the most depth to unravel through repeated listens.

Like bookends, the tracks that close out [Untitled] are every bit as jarring as the trio that opened the whole experience. ‘Wendy & Betsy’ is akin to reading an angry letter, starting out as a stream-of-conscious rambling before erupting into this series of banshee-like screams that returns [Untitled] to the coarse, impulsive state in which it began. ‘New Wine, New Skins’ is quite simply one of the best all-around songs that the band has made, blending tune sense with raw power to the sound of a forlorn chorus: “God's will or come what fortune gives / or is this truly how you choose to live? Managing a narrative." All of the fear, anger, and dissonance finally boils over on ‘Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore’ – a track so cryptic and with such an epic scope that it feels like being swallowed into a fever dream. It’s a downright frightening song – beginning with a haunting spoken passage before progressing to majestic guitar riffs and masterful drum fills, the likes of which sound even more gritty and magnificent than what closed out ‘Rainbow Signs.’ Weiss’ shrill, tortured wails and lyrical references to slavery (for added context, research the origins of Michael Row the Boat Ashore) add several layers of mystique and discomfort. By the time everything begins to fade out, it feels like the world has just ended and you’re merely lying there in disbelief…watching the smoke clear with no more answers than before, just the destruction and chaos all around you. It’s a chilling, sobering feeling. There is little doubt that ‘Michael’ is this album’s absolute zenith – and an instant classic worthy of sitting near the top of mewithoutYou’s lauded canon.

When the dust from ‘Michael’ finally settles, mewithoutYou again chooses to end things on a softer note. This time, there are no inside jokes between Aaron and his late father, just the existential ambiguity of the line “someday, I’ll find me.” It’s actually the ideal way to end [Untitled], a record that never quite feels assured of its place in this world. It’s ugly and beautiful; one moment subdued and the next blistering. Perhaps that’s exactly the sort of album mewithoutYou was aiming for – a commentary on the bedlam that is modern society. Or maybe it’s merely a byproduct, this instinctual and very human response to uncertainty. One thing is for sure, though: [Untitled] is not a comfortable listen. It feels like something not meant for our ears – an incredibly spiritual and private moment that’s bound to compelling scripture and woeful, debilitating memories. It’s unfiltered passion that evades qualification; something to which we’d be performing a disservice by assigning a title.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
FreddieDelaney31
September 28th 2018


4916 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Pos

Digging: ITEM - Sad Light

DirEnRefused
September 28th 2018


3489 Comments


I hope this is as wonderful as the EP.

ProjectFreak
September 28th 2018


3191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lovely review. Sort of surprised that you mention Weiss' lyrics relatively little, but that makes me all the more excited for the album as a whole (it's not like he's capable of bad lyrics...). I really, really hope this can live up to the all the hype I've attached to it.

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 28th 2018


28715 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

tbqh I haven't had time to analyze the lyrics and they're extremely difficult to discern without the booklet most of the time

Digging: Exit North - Book of Romance and Dust

ProjectFreak
September 28th 2018


3191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh no worries, that wasn't meant as a criticism! If the music is that interesting that you can discuss the album at length without diving too far into the lyrics, like I said, that's all the more compelling

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 28th 2018


28715 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

yeah I'll just delve into the lyrics in the comments

will give us all more to talk about

Toondude10
September 28th 2018


13456 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

damn you and your staff powers



I wanna listen to this NOOOOW

Digging: Lovebites - Clockwork Immortality

bgillesp
September 28th 2018


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

When is official release?

Toondude10
September 28th 2018


13456 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

October 5th (a.k.a. next week) I believe

FreddieDelaney31
September 28th 2018


4916 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Definitely disagree about Tortoises tho, that's become one of my favorite mwY songs

The complete switch in tone between the 1st and 2ND chorus in Flee Thou Matadors is my latest obsession with this album

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 28th 2018


28715 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"...and ‘Tortoises All The Way Down’ are less memorable but more intriguing from a songwriting perspective, with the first sounding like a religious incantation (“fire in the flood, there’s power in the blood”) and the second building ever-so-gradually to a ‘Luca’-like crescendo of “everybody knows…what you’ve done”, accompanied by thunderous drums and dirty, groovy electric riffs."

I don't think I was criticizing the track, or at least it wasn't my intention. It's less catchy, better substance.

Gyromania
September 28th 2018


26100 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Excellent review! So much more hyped now. Did not expect this to harken back to their earlier stuff. After 'Julia' I figured this would be a more atmospheric and melodic album. Really excited to hear that opener.

Gyromania
September 28th 2018


26100 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Freddie how do you have this?

BigPleb
September 28th 2018


55910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Only ever jammed A:B to Life by these guys.



Tempted to give this a spin, lovely review.

Digging: Azusa - Heavy Yoke

FreddieDelaney31
September 28th 2018


4916 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I guess I latched onto the 'less memorable' part but yr right. I love how comparatively chill and bare the first half of the song is while still being very confrontational

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 28th 2018


28715 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

The A->B comparisons are merely to qualify his screams, but this sounds a lot more like Pale Horses than it does any of their earlier stuff.

BigPleb
September 28th 2018


55910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh no tell a lie I jammed Pale Horses too.



Can't remember much...

FreddieDelaney31
September 28th 2018


4916 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I personally hear a heavier, more overtly epic Catch For Us The Foxes

Gyromania
September 28th 2018


26100 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Catch For Us is my absolute favourite mwY so that's great to hear

FreddieDelaney31
September 28th 2018


4916 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

CFUTF has this kinda dry, earthy, bare feeling to it for me that I hear a lot here, and this is definitely their most atmospheric since that one



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