Weyes Blood was born Natalie Mering, in California, and grew up in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She derived the name Weyes Blood from the Flannery O’Connor novel Wise Blood, and released her first album in 2011, following self released albums as Weyes Bluhd.
Titanic Rising is Blood’s fourth album, and it’s been a critical breakthrough for her, an early candidate for album of the year. Stylistically, it’s an unexpected choice for critical favour – at times, Mering’s rich voice and the lush studio arrangements recall a Carpenters record from the early 1970s.
Despite drawing on textures from the past, Blood’s lyrical concerns are contemporary. Titanic Rising tackles both global crises, like helplessness in the face of the climate emergency, and personal issues, like disconnectedness in the face of technology. These are dystopian themes, but reading Blood’s lyrics on paper, they’re not too different from the search for meaning and connection on a 1970s Jackson Browne record:
Everyone’s broken now and no one knows just howWild Time
We could have all gotten so far from truth
Titanic Rising houses some stunning tracks. First single, ‘Andromeda’ has a psychedelic edge – with its synth landscape and elegant melody, it’s reminiscent of Radiohead’s OK Computer. The use of pedal steel on an atmospheric track also recalls Pink Floyd.
The Carpenters comparison is justified on ‘Something to Believe’, a lush piano ballad. The stacked backing vocals and lead guitar tones are both similar to The Carpenters’ work, and the confessional opening line “Drank a cup of coffee this morning” reinforces the 1970s aura.
The pivotal track for appreciation of Titanic Rising is the sixth track, ‘Movies’. While most of Titanic Rising is warm and inviting, ‘Movies’ is austere and cold, with Blood’s voice competing with quivering synths for attention. It’s a bold artistic move. Placed in the middle of the record, it has the effect of dividing the album into two acts, and accentuates that the first half of the record is stronger than the second.
Titanic Rising features some brilliant tracks, and the collision of warm soundscapes and cold dystopian themes is often captivating.
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