Weyes Blood
Titanic Rising


4.5
superb

Review

by Christopher Y. USER (38 Reviews)
June 16th, 2019 | 6 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The cover only depicts part of the beauty within the album.

Mid-year Review Series: (Part 1)

In a Pitchfork interview, Natalie Mering told the interviewer, “I want people to think about the reality of what’s going on but also to feel a sense of belonging and hope and purpose.” Indeed, given how chaotic the situation over the globe nowadays, from Trump, Brexit to the surging mental illness and global warming, it is no wonder Mering would have such aware yet hopeful response. To be fair though, her statement can sound a bit pretentious at first glance, as I listened too many overtly ambitious artists have made similarly powerful statements, yet the materials they attempted to convey such message only lead to disappointing and confounding results. But when Mering released her album/Sub Pop debut Titanic Rising under the moniker Weyes Blood, it’s clear that the aforementioned statement is no bragging at all. In fact, the album really clarifies such statement as her true goal in this stage of her musical pilgrimage, and not to mention this album is her strongest effort to date as Weyes Blood.

What makes the album such a charming album is that Mering has made the sonic of the album leaned towards 70s pop music while maintaining the innovativeness in the album by incorporating art-rock elements. Whether were they intimately heartwarming gems(the slide guitar-driven “Something to Believe”), ambient electronica dream pop (“Mirror Forever”), futuristic yet irresistibly rustic moments (the steel guitar-laced “Andromeda”) and even sparse chamber pop triumphs(“Wild Times” and love letter “Picture Me Better”), Mering have crafted nostalgic gems without being confined to the past, and instead creating something fresh. However, it was the majestic opener “A Lot’s Gonna Change” and “Everyday” exemplifies the vintage yet innovative sound that dominates the album:The former is an enchanting The Carpenters-esque tune where Mering’s sweet, tuneful voice floats through the decorous sonic mixture of grand piano, the calm, pounding drums * la Karen Carpenter, the beautiful vocals harmonies and soaring strings, while ensuring the future is nothing to fear about (“If I still believe that hearts don’t lie/You’re gonna be just fine”), exhibiting a pop tune can be poignantly optimistic being corny; the latter is a gem blending Carpenters melodies with The Beach Boys-esque hooks and a flair of Rufus Wainwright-like theatrics, with Mering laments about the romantic issues that was caused with Tinder and other dating apps, from the fear of loneliness (“I’m so scared of being alone/It’s true, it’s true”), unrequited love(“I see you every day, But that’s not enough”) and hesitation towards a new relationship(“True love is making a comeback, or only half because the rest just feel bad”), all the while chanting an unforgettably explosive doo wop chorus with a sweet vocal harmony section and progressing towards a bombastic coda comprises of whirlwind strings, bluesy guitars and pounding drums that ends with a dark, haunting closure. In short, Mering has polished and expanded her more traditional rock-indebted beauty into a new level in Titanic Rising, resulting in an album that is both elegantly modern and beautifully vintage, something that most indie rock and art rock contemporaries did not create.

Despite its inclination towards classic 70s pop music, that doesn’t mean it is just a vintage record with innovative spins, as this album also contains a couple of futuristic beauties within it. The instrumental title track is such an example: a minute-and-a-half-long soundscape that is filled with oceanic synths, and laced with some echoing guitars and rippling electronics on the way and a haunting flute in the end, the number is an Another Green World-recalled musical watercolour that perfectly describes its title: The ocean slowly engulfing the entire earth surface, with the world itself slowly becomes a beautiful water world, depicting the devastating future as a result of exponentially strengthening global warming. If the stunning number is not enough, Mering would follow up with the breathtaking crowning jewel that is “Movies”: Opened with the fluorescent synth arpeggios that recalls the futuristic soundtrack of Blade Runner, then followed with the ethereal synth pad that could be found in the album’s title track and Mering’s mermaid-like vocals, as it seems the singer sang in the underwater bedroom like the album cover suggest. After about three minute and a half of the watery beauty, the song suddenly switched to a Philip Glass-Esque violin interlude that recalls the oceanic arpeggios in the beginning, only to explode to a coda with pummeling drums, lush synth bass, and more grandiose strings. Even the lyrics beneath the movie-like (no pun intended) sounds are perhaps one of the best in the album, as Mering explored deep topics such as the struggles of understanding meaning of life(“Some people watch till they explode/The meaning of life doesn’t seem to shine like that screen”), the lacklustre portrayal of reality in medias(“The movies I watched when I was a kid/The hopes and the dreams/Don’t give credit to the real things”) and individuality(“I wanna be the star of mine/Of my own, my own”), among other things, making this song one of the more complex tune. Although Brian Eno-esque tunes only limited to these two songs, it already proved that Mering is capable of challenging new territories instead of simply meddling in perfecting the innovation of the vintage sound.

The only flaw in the album is that the songs can sound too much alike to each other at times, with Mering’s vocals can sound too much alike in several songs, as this double-edged feature makes the album somehow monochromatic yet more coherent simultaneously. However, with the stunning quality of the songs alone is enough to negate such flaws. In fact, the word “epic” is perhaps not enough to describe this album at all, as this album is a musical equivalent of an otherworldly water palace that awaits anyone to discover itself, thanks to its grandiose, cinematic production without being overbearing, as well as the highly introspective, complex yet optimistic lyrics, Mering’s awe-striking vocals and unforgettable hooks. As Mering crooned in the chorus “A Lot’s Gonna Change”, “Try to leave it all behind in your lifetime” and that the strings of the song reprised in the finale “Nearer To Thee”, it seems the singer is guiding us towards a glowing future, as if that the uncertain climate of the world doesn’t matter anymore. As the drama around the world unfolds after one another, from the tumultuous affairs in the White House, the shuffling chaos in the United Kingdom to the ire-riddled protest unleashed recently against a controversial law in my country Hong Kong, Titanic Rising is perhaps the album that we all needed in this volatile time, as well as sealing Weyes Blood a force to be reckon with in music. Unlike the more pretentious pop megastars nowadays who awkwardly failed to convey their message, Natalie Mering truly clarifies her goal without being frothy, all the while maintaining a sense of grandeur, realism, innovation, honesty, and beauty within Titanic Rising, resulting this album is one that is hopeful yet realistic and grounded, and one of the best albums in 2019.

Personal Rating:4.64/5

Personal Favourite:
A Lot’s Gonna Change
Everyday
Movies
Mirror Forever
Picture Me Better



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SherlockChris9021
June 16th 2019


184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Brilliant album, feeling that writing a sound off is literally not enough to do it justice, so I decided to kick off my mid-year review series with this album.



Because there are three series coming, so I will release the reviews in such order:

Old Times(any classic album that is not released in this decade)-->Modern Times (any noteworthy album that is released in this decade, this is year is excluded)-->Mid-year(any noteworthy album released in this year so far).



As always, any constructive criticism is welcomed.

Gyromania
June 16th 2019


27980 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

excellent hypothesis, sherlock.



also bold song names look fucking awful in reviews and serve no purpose.

Sunnyvale
June 16th 2019


1121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Rules, maybe my AOTY so far

SherlockChris9021
June 16th 2019


184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks, Gyromania. I wanted to add the bold song names so I could make it easier to read, but now you mention it, it doesn't make much difference.

brandontaylor
June 18th 2019


826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is both my AOTY and SOTY (Movies) so far. review doesnt really offer a new viewpoint to what ive read about this album thus far, but its well written and i agree overall.

SherlockChris9021
June 19th 2019


184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hi, @brandontaylor. Thanks for the opinion. Indeed, it is actually hard to find the new viewpoint, because the album sound and message is bright and clear, but I tried my best to dissect her ambition through this album, so I tried and I think I did a pretty good job.



For the AOTY thing, I'm pretty sure this album will be in my Top Ten list.



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