mewithoutYou - [Untitled] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


[Untitled] (2018)

run for cover

mewithoutYou is a band whose evolution has been quite a pleasure to enjoy. Their later records feel way more cinematic than their older indie/folk takes, but whether they go atmospheric, louder, acoustic or soft and melodramatic, whatever they do registers. Saying mwY make any sound work is an understatement, and here [Untitled] is another brilliant example how much this rings true. It follows up an EP just over a month ago that felt like a wave of magic coming, only now it goes on to raise the stakes with their hardest, loudest and most post-hardcore sound to date. I expected magic, but yeah, instead I got delightful chaos.

mwY here feel like a band on fire, with Aaron Weiss' poetry and vocals on point (as expected), but taking a backseat to let their technical prowess shine. However, as loud as it is, it's quite simplistic as mwY don't really mix in too many styles into individual tracks, something they did on Pale Horses a bit too much (although I did enjoy it). Instead, there are blocks of songs here dedicated to a single, focused perspective, such as "9:27a.m., 7/29" and "Wendy & Betsy" which have a noisy, buzzy feel a la Single Mothers. 

Then there are songs like "Julia (or, 'Holy to the LORD' on the Bells of Horses)" -- one of their best songs ever -- and "New Wine, New Skins" which pay homage to '90s rock, especially the grunge era. But it's songs like "Winter Solstice" and "Tortoises All The Way Down" which balance these soft-loud dynamic of the band, with Weiss subtly cooing over them, to show the best balance of the record. More so, these songs illustrate a side of them I always wanted to see. A duality that invites new fans in but also reminds old fans they love braving new waters.

Sure, there are warm acoustics littered here and there, but it's more about driving rhythms, cutting/explosive riffs and less about catchy songs a la "Cardiff Giant". If you told me this would be the direction months ago, I'd have been concerned, but hearing them experiment like this and pull it off with aplomb, well, it should really come as no shocker. I feel dumb for ever panicking and not trusting them because this album is another experience in the bag, and another masterpiece written on the wall.