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mewithoutYou - Ten Stories (Cover Artwork)

mewithoutYou

mewithoutYou: Ten StoriesTen Stories (2012)
Pine Street Records.

Reviewer Rating: 4
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Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
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When mewithoutYou announced that they were streaming their fifth full-length, Ten Stories, it was accompanied with a series of questions, the most glaring of which was "Have you been on the fence about the band since the direction of the last album?" That anyone felt the need to ask is a testament t.
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When mewithoutYou announced that they were streaming their fifth full-length, Ten Stories, it was accompanied with a series of questions, the most glaring of which was "Have you been on the fence about the band since the direction of the last album?" That anyone felt the need to ask is a testament to how polarizing their last effort, It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright really was. Ten Stories is a return to form in many ways, yet it also feels like a step in an entirely different direction, and as such is the most interesting thing the group has laid to tape in more than half a decade.

"February 1878" clues listeners in right away that Ten Stories is a very different record than its predecessor. Its aggressive midtempo attack, peppered with some classic Aaron Weiss shouts harkens back to the days of Catch For Us the Foxes, while retaining the maturity and melodic chops of their later works.

Ten Stories is all over the place stylistically. From the angular yet melodic post-hardcore of "Grist for the Malady Mill" to peaceful sounds of "East Ender's Wives," which comes off like a mostly acoustic cousin to Minus the Bear's "Memphis & 53rd," to the horn-laden, heavily Neutral Milk Hotel-influenced "Bear's Vision of St. Agnes." This song in particular demonstrates that this is still the same band that made It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright, yet the electric instrumentation used here suits the band far better than the folky approach used on that album.

"Cardiff Giant" is perhaps the most accessible song mewithoutYou has penned to date, and the closest thing the band has written to what could conceivably be called a "hit single." It's bright and bouncy, recalling the best of Plans-era Death Cab For Cutie, although its chorus, consisting lyrically of little more than the phrase "I often wonder if I've already died," stands in stark contrast to its poppy tone.

The slightly more commercial bent of "Cardiff Giant" is balanced out later in the album by "Fox's Dream of the Log Flume." Even the guest vocals of Paramore's Hayley Williams cannot dull what is arguably the most intense song the band has penned yet. Weiss is at his lyrical best here; the entire song is so quotable that an excerpt wouldn't do it justice, but it's worth noting that it may be perhaps the first time a Christian band has used the phrase "It's pretty obvious that there's no God" in a song.

Ten Stories is a concept album. According to drummer Rickie Mazzota, "Essentially it's about a circus train that crashes due to an elephant rising up to free all the other animals." However, the songs presented here feel less like parts of a whole than individual compositions. The group's past full-lengths, even the less-than-stellar previous album, have all felt like unified works, begging to be absorbed front to back. Ten Stories is the group's most stylistically diverse offering yet, and as such, feels more like a collection of songs than a single cohesive entity. That being said, the songs presented here may not beg to be played one after another, but they are all great tunes on their own merits.

mewithoutYou have given us some of the best songs of their career on Ten Stories. They've taken some risks and made some interesting stylistic choices. Taken as a whole, it doesn't quite measure up to the greatness of Brother, Sister, but it comes mighty close. It's a record that should satisfy most of their fanbase. Fans of the group's earlier work disillusioned with the direction of the past album will be glad to hear they've gone back to some of what made those albums work, and listeners who enjoyed the more low-key style of their more recent work will be happy to find that the maturity of songwriting they gained is still intact, and perhaps even sharper. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a mewithoutYou record in the past will have at least something to like on Ten Stories.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
mewithoutYou - Catch For Us The FoxesJawbreaker - Dear YoumewithoutYou - Brother, SisterThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldKreayshawn - Somethin' 'Bout Kreay'Tom Waits - Bad As MeFugazi - The ArgumentSaetia - A RetrospectiveThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or Swim

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
cleverest (May 24, 2013)

"it's worth noting that it may be perhaps the first time a Christian band has used the phrase "It's pretty obvious that there's no God" in a song"

---> While this line is true, strictly speaking, I feel it's important for those who read this (and care) to mention the very next line he sings, which without mentioning it takes the line totally out of context, which is "and there's definitely a God!":

The entire phrase as sung is:

"so by now I think
it's pretty obvious that there's no God
and there's definitely a God!"

nothingshy (November 9, 2012)

album of the year

coldwaraaron (May 20, 2012)

Almost a perfect album. Doesn't hit quite as hard as Brother, Sister, but still fantastic.

canaandrumzz (May 15, 2012)

Cardiff Giant is great and melodic but the kicker for me is when the shouting kicks in over the vocal track. Brings back that heavier element that "Its all false" lacked.

renaldo69 (May 15, 2012)

4 stars for me too. loved it

Blackjaw_ (May 15, 2012)

Really, really good. I keep listening to this and Hop Along's album back to back. Great combo.

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