Release Date: Oct 21, 2014
Record label: Mexican Summer
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
Natalie Mering got her start playing basement shows and collaborating with noise bands like Nautical Almanac and Jackie-O Motherfucker, eventually twisting her vocals into harsh dissonance on early releases for her solo project Weyes Bhlud. Her proper debut, 2011's The Outside Room (attributed to Weyes Blood and the Dark Juices) was a murky pastiche of medieval folk influence buried deep in textural ambience, with the two different sides of Mering's muse competing for space and ultimately canceling each other out. Follow-up album The Innocents strikes the perfect balance between Mering's courtly songwriting and twisted noise roots, switching out the buried feeling of The Outside Room for a clear, somber sound that finds Mering's vocals and U.
The gravitas, the seeming archaic ambiance of Weyes Blood’s new album does not originate in the (hypnotic, engaging, full) voice of Natalie Mering or some innate old-fashionedness, as one may be first inclined to guess. In an interview, Mering cites early music as an essential influence, mentioning in particular Bach’s ideal of the perfect fifth. Listening to The Innocents with this presence-of-history in mind, all doubts as to the “sincerity” of such old sounds fall into the realm of irrelevance.
Natalie Mering, the brains behind the indie-folk outfit Weyes Blood, has seen a great deal of the country in the past few years. She has toured as a member of noise-rock outfit Jackie-O Motherfucker and alongside Nautical Almanac, although most listeners will recognize her robustly forlorn voice from Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti’s Mature Themes. After the release of her 2011 label debut, The Outside Room, she has wandered America like a Steinbeck character (anyone who adapts her stage name from a Flannery O’Connor novel will certainly be familiar with literary references).
Some artists are best discovered on a whim, and Weyes Blood is one of them. Several years ago, while wandering down a side alley in Lisbon, I stopped at an unmarked record store and asked the owner for a recommendation, something that he was proud to own. He left the counter, walked to a section labelled “GOTHIC FOLK/ELECTRONICA,” and pulled out The Outside Room.
Picture this. A field in England. The year of our Lord 1645. A crisp, wintry dawn breaks across a tragi-glorious landscape ravaged by civil war and reeking of pain and pestilence. These boggy moors of middle England are your new home now as sadly you’ve recently found yourself in contention with ….
Weyes Blood — The Innocents (Mexican Summer)Natalie Mering infuses madrigal melodies with squiggly bits of noise, shading upward lilting melodies with fragile self-harmonies, and then interspersing them with abstract hisses and synthetic clanks and pings. Her voice, strong and pure and tipped with shudders of vibrato, has a bracing beauty; it does not sooth as much as it calls to action. In these somber, shadowy musical settings, Mering’s vocals sound as bright as a trumpet.Unlike 2011’s The Outside Room, The Innocents isa more or less solo endeavor.