New Music Review: Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

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 how
We could have all gotten so far from truth

Wild Time

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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  1. I saw ‘Wise Blood’ (the flick) years ago when it came out. Brad Dourif who was in ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ played the main character and it was directed by John Huston. CB should be all over this one. As to the music, I’m liking what I hear.

  2. Very nice. She has a fuller sound than most, a musicality (for lack of a better word). My big issue with today’s music is: where are the songwriters?? Lots of attitude, but the writing is lacking. I think punk and DIY/alt rock had a lot to do with that. “I don’t need to be able to write, or play my instrument, I just have to have sincerity and energy.” It’s made for a mountain of bad music. Her name is strange, but I like her music, especially “Andromeda.”

    • I like a lot of modern music, but if you like huge sounding, sophisticated rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music, and Yes don’t have a lot of equivalents, certainly not in mainstream. A lot of the guitar bands I like at the moment are more from the alt-rock school. I’m sure there’s stuff out there that you’d enjoy – there’s just a bewildering amount of music out there to sort through.

      • I agree, there’s quite a bit. Once in a while I’ll hear something new (like Blood) that makes me sit up. There’s just a goldmine of wonderful music from the past, though, still to uncover, that will keep me occupied for ten lifetimes!

  3. I’ve been running behind. A spacey Carpenters is a good comparison. It’s something I would play while working…in fact I have.

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