Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising

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Natalie Mering, performing under the name of Weyes Blood, has been perfecting her delicate brand of psych-folk since her early self-released recordings in 2011. Gradually building on and evolving into her sprawling chamber-pop, Titanic Rising is her most ambitious and fully realized work to date. Mering’s robust voice is anchored by lush, textured arrangements. While evoking the vibrant intimacy of vintage songwriters (Mitchell, King, Nicks), her music at the same time astonishes with its cinematic scope. Weyes Blood’s fourth album is the masterpiece that she has been inching towards her entire career.

The magnificent opener “A Lot’s Gonna Change” sees Mering walking a delicate emotional balance between deep anxiety and wide-eyed optimism. What begins with a haunting interlude creeps into ethereal piano and strings. She shows a remarkable sense of restraint as she subtly builds, leading the listener into the climactic chorus by the hand. While the track begins with her longing for a simpler time in her youth where the world felt so innocent to her, she comes to a soul-searching sense of hopefulness in the midst of adversity at the tracks end. “Cause you got what it takes in your lifetime. Try to leave it all behind,” she convinces herself with her emotive, calming voice.

Those themes carry on into the outstanding second track “Andromeda.” She has the eyes of a mystic on the first verse: “Looking up to the sky for something I may never find.” She brings these big ideas down to earth by the tracks end as she exclaims, “Don’t waste any more time. You know I’ve been holding out.” She demonstrates a keen ability to inject a complete narrative of transformation through each song. A sobering slide guitar comes in after each refrain, a melancholy beauty seeping out of every note.

Tracks work together cohesively, but there is also a great deal of diversity on the record. Take for example the vibrant “Everyday” with its McCartney-esque bass runs, whereas “Mirror Forever” is a beautiful slow-burning synth pop tune.

Titanic Rising’s centerpiece is the momentous “Movies”. Swirling synths give the track it’s otherworldly feel.  Weyes Blood is in love, and the moment feels too surreal for her. It is as if she is watching her life from the other end of a film screen. The sentiment could come off as trite if it wasn’t for Merring’s convicting vocal swells.

Weyes Blood takes very small moments and gives much contemplated outward significance to them. On “Something to Believe”, she is looking for something grander than the moment, but she is stuck in the redundancies of the day: “Drank a lot of coffee today .Got lost in the fray, I gave all I had for a time.” On Wild Time, she observes a changing world, but sings it as if that message was intended for an audience of one. “Running on a million people burning. Don't cry, it's a wild time to be alive.”

Titanic Rising is an intricate, immaculately crafted album seeing Weyes Blood at the top of her songwriting capabilities. These songs, if chosen to be just instrumental, would still be captivating. In the same way, if any of these songs were stripped down to just an acoustic guitar, Mering’s voice and poignant lyrics would still be enough to mystify. Weyes Blood has often performed “Vitamin C” by the German krautrock band Can. It is indeed a peculiar track to make as a setlist staple for Mering, but it shows just how deep her influences go on Titanic Rising. It is a synthesis of sounds and ideas that mesh perfectly together to form something entirely her own.

Grade: A+

Matt Marciniec