Monday, 21 May 2012

mewithoutYou - Ten Stories

mewithoutYou’s blend of post-hardcore, indie and folk has led to them having a eclectic back catalogue to say the least. The bands last album, ‘It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright’ was so heavy on the folk influences it split the fan base, sounding far closer to the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel than their metalcore origins. ‘Ten Stories’ sees the band moving back towards the post-hardcore feel, musically falling between 2004’s ‘Catch For Us The Foxes’ and 2006’s ‘Brother, Sister’, yet it retains many elements from It’s All Crazy..., mainly on the lyrical front. The band have balanced their styles perfectly here, so much so that it might be their best record yet.

Ten Stories is, for want of a better phrase, a concept album. It tells the story of a circus train that crashed, outlined in opening track ‘February, 1878’, and looks at the path the animals that the crash sets free take. This is a veil for singing Aaron Weiss’ message of course, one I will leave to you interpret in your own way.

I will say that it is rare for a record to make you contemplate the themes and telling of the story quite this much, and it is only to Aaron’s credit that it does. His lyrics are exquisite, he has a grasp of words that few modern writers can match. Here and there he feeds lines to keep the listener connected to the tale and it’s meaning, “some with certainty insist no certainty exists” he spits on ‘Fox’s Dream Of The Log Flume’, meaning the listener isn’t likely to be alienated when he does spiral off into references to old fables. It’s is potentially his most accessible and best lyrical work for the band yet. His delivery is inch perfect, as he blends his singing and screaming styles wonderfully, and with screaming mainly reserved for conveying emphasis, it doesn’t get overpowering for those who aren’t accustomed to heavier music.

Musically too, Ten Stories sees the band at probably their most accessible. February, 1878 sets out the fact that the guitars and drums are most definitely back, yet the band retain the explosions of sound for when they’re really needed. The way the musical styles are blended is stunning; many times folky guitars and strings meet crashing drums. It feels very free flowing, many songs suddenly switching mood half way through. Take ‘Nine Stories’, which flows as a lovely acoustic track before rising to a doom-laden second half, huge drums and brass. It’s astonishing. Hayley William’s pops up on Fox’s Dream Of The Log Flume and closer All Circles, and her and Aaron’s vocals played off each other work like a dream.

So, lyrically perfect, musically stunning, yet fairly easy to get your head around. It is a long way from their roots, but the progress of their sound is as impressive as any of their contemporaries. It works fantastically on a instant level, but allow yourself to get lost in Aaron’s telling of the tale and the music that flows with it and you will discover something truly special. This is an exceptional record.


Sean Collison

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