Album Review: Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

Emily Pirie reviews Weyes Blood's latest album

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It’s been four years since Natalie Mering, the soulful voice behind Weyes Blood released more music into the world. With the dawn of April, this soon changed, for which the avid fans and new fans alike are eternally grateful. Titanic Rising is a surreal concoction of magical realism, sultry tones, and psychedelic folk that lulls the listener into a trance. Upon reaching the end of the album, one feels that they have been floating through space, gazing out at the dark night shining with stars of hope.

Mering evokes this sense of darkness and anxiety in the first song of the album, ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’. In this, she encapsulates the sense of fear that members of the 21st century feel in a “century lost to memories”. Instead, she wishes for the arcadia of her youth; a time in which she believed the “whole world” was “gently wrapped” around her and everyone appeared to tell the truth, unlike the fake news that we are confronted with today.

it’s a surreal concoction of magical realism, sultry tones, and psychedelic folk that lulls the listener into a trance

As the Extinction Rebellion activists continue to protest in a bid to avoid environmental collapse, Titanic Rising acts as the protesters’ theme tune. In an interview for PitchforkMering claims that through her music she wants “people to think about the reality of what’s going on” as the comfort of her childhood when she believed that “coral reefs were going to be there” for her children has now been obliterated. Mering adopts the same persuasive and bittersweet tone of Matt Maltese in his song ‘Mortals’, who asks where mortals went “so wrong” for soon “all the roses” could die.

Like Maltese, the cool and soulful Mering uses her position as an artist to raise the issues that our ecological environment is facing. Visually, she achieves this through her cover art, in which we see Mering facing the viewer; she is seen floating in a childhood bedroom that has been engulfed by water. Here, she highlights the in the temporality of nature, in which there is mass flooding on the one hand and severe droughts on the other. ‘Titanic Rising, the fifth song on the album is a testimony to this sense of drowning; the song has no lyrics and yet it manages to convey of the colossal power of nature, which has the power to rise up against humans unless we face the facts of climate change.

However, this is not going to be an album that fills you with despair as you try and take a break from beautiful and, yet, alarming images from the Netflix series Our Planet. Songs such as ‘Something to Believe‘ and ‘Andromeda‘ provide the listener with a twinkle of hope. In ‘Andromeda‘ Mering urges us to “lift the heart from the depth it’s fallen to” for “we all want something new”. Through the effective medium of music, the listener can interpret this sense of newness as they wish. What is this new ‘something’ that we want? A new prime minister/ friends/ dog/ lover?

Mering’s voice begins to dance with itself in ‘Movies’, ending in a climax of a violin crescendo

Thematic elements aside, it is Mering’s smooth and dark dulcet tones that position the album on a par with Kevin Morby’s new album, Oh My God. She acquires the same silky tones that she evoked in songs such as ‘Diary‘ and ‘Used to Be‘ from her 2016 album, Front Row Seat to Earth, complementing her vocals with her own piano playing. Mering’s deep voice has remnants of Karen Carpenter, mixed in a musical cocktail with traces of Lana Del Rey. In an interview with NME, Mering cited Enya as an inspiration behind the album, describing her as being “a very matriarchal musical force. Her music is very feminine and she layers her voice a lot”. ‘Movies‘ encapsulates Enya’s influence- as the song progresses we hear multiple layers of Mering’s voice playing over each other and harmonising with one another; Mering’s voice begins to dance with itself, ending in a climax of a violin crescendo.

Titanic Rising propels the listener into a world where Mering discusses her love of ‘Movies’, whilst nature tries to find a voice in a world of destruction. However, we are also transformed into a land of hope, in which we can find ‘Something to Believe‘. As Mering stated in her Pitchfork interview, we all need to feel a “sense of belonging and hope and purpose” and I certainly felt this after placing my headphones down.

 

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