There are rare moments as a critic when an album is released that is such a breakthrough, so immediately understood, that it serves as a reminder that there is still transcendent art being created. Weyes Blood’s Titanic Rising appears to have provided that rare moment.
The project of Natalie Mering, Weyes Blood has been releasing promising music since 2011, but seems to have finally realized her
potential with Titanic Rising. Mering hits the absolute perfect balance of lush, baroque instrumentals with the heart and melodies of modern Mitski-esque music.
The album centers on the discontent and malaise plaguing modernity, handling this unease with poise, yet offers a refreshing twist within it: a desperate longing for love. Songs like ‘Andromeda’ sound uneasy and almost alien in its warped production of baroque strings and choir-like vocals, yet beg for love in the endless void demanding, “Treat me right/I’m still a good man’s daughter.” On the following track, she muses over light piano how she “true love is making a comeback,” yet as the album treks on it becomes clear that this love seems hopelessly far away as songs like ‘Mirror Forever’ address feeling trapped within one’s own body and life in an age increasingly disconnected from others.
The production, done by Mering and Jonathan Rado, is arguably some of the most interesting heard in a decade. Mering’s voice is masterfully mixed, at moments incredibly intimate, at other times almost a booming choir within an orchestra. And while her vocals are the star attraction, they would be nothing without the gorgeous chamber orchestral melodies dancing behind her.
These strings are produced unlike any other baroque pop album I’ve ever heard before. However, they’re dragged and boosted akin to an electronic album and at times are so dense they sound closer to Gregorian chants, in the absolute best way possible. Topped off with tasteful percussion and modern synthesised sounds, the album has a subtle, yet brilliant voice like no other. This sound alongside Mering’s brilliant songwriting makes Titanic Rising unlike really anything in the same vein.
Titanic Rising sounds otherworldly, yet tells remarkably human stories with emotion. While it took me a few listens; from its title to its album art and, most importantly, to the songs within it, it’s an album that begs to be deemed an instant classic.
Image: Amy Hope Dermont via Wikimedia Commons