Weyes Blood Makes Grandiose Statement with ‘Titanic Rising’
Patrick Witteman | Thursday, April 11, 2019
Natalie Mering, who performs under Weyes Blood, is no stranger to the music industry. “Titanic Rising,” her newest, most stunning offering, is the fourth LP that she has released since her full-length debut in 2011. What distinguishes this album from the other three is that “Titanic Rising” was released under the indie rock stalwart Sub Pop. The difference between “Titanic Rising” and her other records is distinct, as production and ideas on this fourth LP are more flushed out and developed, making this her most ambitious musical effort to date. The album bursts with ambition, encapsulated by the fact that Mering actually submerged a fully-furnished bedroom in water to get just the right look for the album artwork. Mering’s influences on this project are abundant. Inspiration was most likely found from the work of Kate Bush, the Kinks, Joni Mitchell and Julia Holter among others, although Mering’s grandiose vision makes her work a unique departure from her influential predecessors.
On “Titanic Rising,” Blood ascends to cinematic levels of grandeur in the range of emotions that she manages to capture. The cinematic qualities of “Titanic Rising” are initiated by Blood from the get go, with the title track “A Lot’s Gonna Change” straddling the boundary between sentimentalism and haunting beauty. As she croons, “Born in a century lost to memories / Falling trees, get off your knees / No one can keep you down,” Blood’s vocals impart a kind of fleeting warmth as she harkens back to a fantasy-filled, pre-apocalyptic past.
Yet the transitory feeling of Blood’s delivery grounds her harkening back to the past in the present, ensuring that her pre-apocalyptic ruminations do not become elements of fantasy themselves. In an interview with Pitchfork, Mering explains that she wants her music with lyrical content like “A Lot’s Gonna Change” to be a cause for people to, “think about the reality of what’s going on but also to feel a sense of belonging and hope and purpose.” She continues frankly, explaining that, “I hope you could have a smile during the apocalypse and be grateful for whatever conditions exist, because life is a beautiful thing.” The production on “A Lot’s Gonna Change” is stunningly beautiful as well, managing to be maximalist in its arrangement while providing ample space for the vocals of Blood to swirl and float along its baroque strings and piano.
The more Julia Holter-esque moments on the album come towards the latter half, where the production is more sparse and the vocals of Mering are soft and evanescent. On “Mirror Forever,” the organ and wobbly guitars Mering utilizes are hauntingly effective, as she sings “Got a feeling our romance doesn’t stand a chance. … You threw me out of the garden of Eden / Lift me up just to let me fall hard / Can’t stand being your second best.” Love, for Mering, can be both good and bad, and the shift in moods and themes across this album represent that sentiment.
The sheer scale and cosmic proportions of Mering’s fourth effort as Weyes Blood makes “Titanic Rising” an early contender for album of the year. The slow and steady progression that Mering has made from LP to LP has paid off, as “Titanic Rising” is one of the best indie albums of recent memory.
Artist: Weyes Blood
Album: “Titanic Rising”
Label: Sub Pop
Favorite Tracks: “A Lot‘s Gonna Change,” “Andromeda,” “Everyday”
If you like: Julia Holter, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Beach House
Shamrocks: 5 out of 5