Release Date: Apr 5, 2019
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Her new album opens with a subtle tribute to the opening of Side B of David Bowie's Low. "A Lot's Gonna Change" opens with what sounds like a corruption of Bowie's "Warszawa". She's taken a masterpiece, sprayed with acid and let it linger, before the track folds outwards ever so beautifully into a widescreen Beatles piano ballad. By the time the meat of the song is unveiled, it's almost as though the ghost of John Lennon is speaking directly through her.
Natalie Mering's work under the name Weyes Blood feels less like a catalog of music and more like a journey. And each time she releases a full-length album, her destination comes a little more into focus. That's especially true on her new record Titanic Rising, which finds Mering edging her peculiar psych-folk closer than ever to the sound of traditional pop music.
The road that songwriter Natalie Mering and her shapeshifting project Weyes Blood walked was a long and twisting route, leading from weird experimental early days to the high-definition grandeur of fourth album Titanic Rising. Every step of the journey brought Mering's gifts for songcraft into sharper focus, with 2014's achingly beautiful The Innocents losing some of its hush with the soft rock lushness of 2016's Front Row Seat to Earth. That '70s FM radio spirit continues on Titanic Rising, but is expanded with more daring songwriting, larger than life arrangements, and the crystallization of Mering's distinctive take on songcraft.
It isn't often that so many different facets of a modern pop record manage to command your fixation without bringing anything actually new to the genre. Yet, Titanic Rising, the latest effort from Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering), proves that peerless pop music doesn't have to be entirely original. Pulling together all the timeless tropes that make resonant, enduring and powerful piano- and synth-led pop (but not for a second sounding dated or too indebted to nostalgia), Mering forges her own originality through the assemblance of impeccable, peerless pop tunes.
In the face of catastrophe, Natalie Mering always finds serenity. Throughout her fourth record as Weyes Blood, tides are surging, trees are falling, the internet is ruining romance, capitalism is pushing workers to the brink of exhaustion, and reality is breaking her heart. In the wake of all this, Mering continues to search the stars for salvation.
The past is compiled like a palimpsest— -the fossils of former years exerting their pressure on the new grass that grows around them. But in this repetition of the old is an incarnation of the new. You can almost see how this would apply to all music-— chord progressions, time signatures, and the basic building blocks of songs all being continually modified and reintroduced.
The escapism of cinema runs throughout the fourth album by Natalie Mering's Weyes Blood. Laid out by her declaration of love for film in 'Movies', the album itself is a product of countless hours watching James Cameron's 1997 epic Titanic. Natalie, infatuated by the film's female-led depiction of love and chaos, equates the ship's ultimate downfall to modern reliance on technology.
The Summer of Love ended in bloodshed and, on her fourth album, it's as though Natalie Mering is looking back at the seemingly idyllic era through a smeared prism Natalie Mering's fantastic fourth album ends where it begins. As Weyes Blood - who since her 2016 EP 'Cardomom Times' has woven lush chamber pop around heady, heavy themes such as contemporary dystopia - she's no stranger to conceptual complexity. And yet this rarely comes at the cost of her Carole King-style piano ballads, which are rich and instantly familiar.
Rating: NNNN Give an indie musician some resources and the results can be staggering. You can't help but think about that when listening to Weyes Blood's phenomenal new album. Working with Sub Pop for the first time has bumped up production values considerably on her fourth record. In the process we discover that the Pennsylvania musician, also known as Natalie Mering, is an arranging genius, a master of atmosphere and an even stronger singer than we'd realized.
I t is, frankly, a miracle that Natalie Mering is not making polite, middle-of-the-road lady-muzak. Languid and disarming, her voice has a potent, old-school beauty that doesn't have to work at all hard to impress. As Weyes Blood, however - a riff on Wise Blood, the title of Flannery O'Connor's southern gothic classic - the 30-year-old has taken her instrument down some unexpected byways.
Since 2016's 'Front Row Seat to Earth', Weyes Blood has worked with Ariel Pink, Jerry Paper and Drugdealer. But 'Titanic Rising', her fourth full-length and first on Sub Pop, shows that it's from when she's in control that emerge some of her most convincing and heartfelt songs. 'Lot's Gonna Change' finds Mering casting a backwards glance to her girlhood and the album she wanted to make.