Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising - Album Review

A career-best from Natalie Mering means more delightful harmonies, baroque lyrics, and focused songwriting.

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In her short career, Natalie Mering has nestled in a unique corner of the music industry, a place once populated by vocal-focused groups of the 60s, now by lush experimenters like Tame Impala. Her voice has always been the calling card for her work, but on Titanic Rising, Mering realizes an instrumental body that supports her beautifully, living up to the mastery her songs as Weyes Blood continue to display.

Titanic Rising is a brooding album. The kind of record that benefits from repeated listens, open to the inquisitive and sensitive eye that’s ready for washed-out imagery and George Harrison slide guitar. Mering’s voice may leap in range, but for the most part, these are reflective and ambient songs: “Mirror Forever” opens with “No one’s ever gonna give you a trophy/For all the pain and the things/You’ve been through/No one knows but you,” delivered like the aftermath of an argument, insults and condemnations lying all around. Earlier, she claims “True love is making a comeback,” an almost storybook wish from an album named after an impossible phenomena. Relationships, lost loves, loosely-veiled metaphors: these are elements of Mering’s music, but hardly the hook. The imagery and musical density of Titanic Rising is the best Mering has put together, but as was before, her ear for classic girl-group and 60s-influenced melody keeps the record engaging beyond surface tension.

Titanic Rising employs harmonies just detectable enough to be sweet on the ear (while avoiding the Fleet Foxes reverb-pool-of-beige), and intricate enough to warrant further listens. Moments on “Wild Time” recall Scott Walker’s baroque-pop aesthetic, and the quiet acoustic hum of “Picture Me Better” draw on descending chord progressions that create a Roy Orbison-like ballad out of humble beginnings. The greatest moments of Titanic Rising, however, come from the first four tracks. Mering’s voice, which leans more toward Karen Carpenter than any of her contemporaries, carries “Andromeda” and “Everyday” into stratospheric arenas, among the best songs she’s recorded. Glimmering production opens the former, gently pushing Mering’s voice to the sunken center; an angelic hook, space-filling harmonies, and delicate guitar soloing make it an early standout, calling to “Find a love that will make you.” “Everyday” channels chamber-pop with bouncing pianos and a Partridge Family-style vocal breakdown: like every song on Titanic Rising, though, it’s more than the sum of its parts. Fuzzed-out guitars rest in the background, and occasional strings arrive to liven the mood into jovial celebration, giving plenty of reason to return. Titanic Rising is crafted meticulously, and like the best Perfume Genius albums, meant to be listened to on good headphones. A rewarding and complex construction of sounds, eras, and singing inspired by one of the greatest vocalists of all time: how could it not be incredible?