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Weyes Blood|And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

Weyes Blood

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With her 2019 album, Titanic Rising, vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Natalie Mering took her long-developing project Weyes Blood to a new level. A fascination with '70s soft rock tonalities that showed up on earlier albums crystallized into something far more opulent on Titanic Rising, with hook-abundant tunes somewhere between Nilsson and Joni underscored by the synth abstraction and experimentalism that had remained constants in the Weyes Blood catalog. Fifth album And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow emerges as the second installment of a trilogy that began with Titanic Rising, and it continues that album's gorgeous arrangements, intricate songwriting, and themes contemplating both one's place in the universe as well as the trajectory of the universe itself. Opening with immediate standout "It's Not Just Me, It's Everybody," all these elements are in place and even more pronounced than on the album prior. The song's straightforward, piano-led instrumentation is gradually filled out by sweeps of orchestral strings, harp, and heavenly backing vocals. Mering's steady, mellow, double-tracked vocals parse through lyrics about times of overwhelming change and isolation as the song builds. It's the first of several of the albums tunes that linger for more than six minutes, moving steadily through their dreamy production and making space for Mering to ruminate on big-picture themes that are more universal than personal. "The Worst Is Done" and "Children of the Empire" are similar, examining the heaviness of societies living through what feels like the end times over peppy rhythms and busy chamber pop flourishes. Mering translates this into a haunted '50s ballad style on "Hearts Aglow," injecting a little Twin Peaks energy into the album's majestic pop sound. Much like its predecessor, the album consists of eight monolithic songs and two more experimental interludes, but And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow expands on the vision of Titanic Rising rather than simply repeating it. "God Turn Me Into a Flower" is a wonderfully restrained inclusion, with Mering's voice, delicate strings, and guest synthesizers from Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin all swirling into a blur of textures and ambience. The neon synth tones, rubbery bass guitar, and clunky drum machine beat of "Twin Flame" is more synth pop than anything Weyes Blood has created before and shakes up the flow of the album without taking it so far out of range that it feels like an outlier. And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow is another step forward for Weyes Blood, building on the stunning sonic and emotional environments she tailored on Titanic Rising and using that lushness as a means of processing destabilized times.

© Fred Thomas /TiVo

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And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

Weyes Blood

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1
It's Not Just Me, It's Everybody
00:06:16

Sean Cook, Engineer - Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Ben Babbitt, Arranger - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Andrew Sarlo, Engineer - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Chad Gordon, Engineer - Drew Erickson, Arranger - Rias Reed, Engineer - Jacob Kell, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

2
Children of the Empire
00:06:03

Sean Cook, Engineer - Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Ben Babbitt, Arranger - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Andrew Sarlo, Engineer - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Chad Gordon, Engineer - Drew Erickson, Arranger - Rias Reed, Engineer - Jacob Kell, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

3
Grapevine
00:05:25

Sean Cook, Engineer - Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Andrew Sarlo, Engineer - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Chad Gordon, Engineer - Drew Erickson, Arranger - Rias Reed, Engineer - Jacob Kell, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

4
God Turn Me Into a Flower
00:06:25

Sean Cook, Engineer - Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Ben Babbitt, Arranger - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Andrew Sarlo, Engineer - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Chad Gordon, Engineer - Rias Reed, Engineer - Jacob Kell, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

5
Hearts Aglow
00:05:49

Sean Cook, Engineer - Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Ben Babbitt, Arranger - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Andrew Sarlo, Engineer - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Chad Gordon, Engineer - Drew Erickson, Arranger - Rias Reed, Engineer - Jacob Kell, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

6
And in the Darkness
00:00:14

Sean Cook, Engineer - Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Andrew Sarlo, Engineer - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Chad Gordon, Engineer - Drew Erickson, Arranger - Rias Reed, Engineer - Jacob Kell, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

7
Twin Flame
00:04:22

Sean Cook, Engineer - Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

8
In Holy Flux
00:01:47

Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Andrew Sarlo, Engineer - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Chad Gordon, Engineer - Rias Reed, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

9
The Worst Is Done
00:06:00

Sean Cook, Engineer - Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Ben Babbitt, Producer, Arranger - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Jonathan Rado, Producer - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Sarah Tudzin, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

10
A Given Thing
00:04:01

Kenny Gilmore, Mixer - Rodaidh McDonald, Producer - Weyes Blood, MainArtist - Natalie Mering, Composer, Producer, Writer - Peter Labberton, Engineer

© 2022 Sub Pop Records ℗ 2022 Sub Pop Records

Album review

With her 2019 album, Titanic Rising, vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Natalie Mering took her long-developing project Weyes Blood to a new level. A fascination with '70s soft rock tonalities that showed up on earlier albums crystallized into something far more opulent on Titanic Rising, with hook-abundant tunes somewhere between Nilsson and Joni underscored by the synth abstraction and experimentalism that had remained constants in the Weyes Blood catalog. Fifth album And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow emerges as the second installment of a trilogy that began with Titanic Rising, and it continues that album's gorgeous arrangements, intricate songwriting, and themes contemplating both one's place in the universe as well as the trajectory of the universe itself. Opening with immediate standout "It's Not Just Me, It's Everybody," all these elements are in place and even more pronounced than on the album prior. The song's straightforward, piano-led instrumentation is gradually filled out by sweeps of orchestral strings, harp, and heavenly backing vocals. Mering's steady, mellow, double-tracked vocals parse through lyrics about times of overwhelming change and isolation as the song builds. It's the first of several of the albums tunes that linger for more than six minutes, moving steadily through their dreamy production and making space for Mering to ruminate on big-picture themes that are more universal than personal. "The Worst Is Done" and "Children of the Empire" are similar, examining the heaviness of societies living through what feels like the end times over peppy rhythms and busy chamber pop flourishes. Mering translates this into a haunted '50s ballad style on "Hearts Aglow," injecting a little Twin Peaks energy into the album's majestic pop sound. Much like its predecessor, the album consists of eight monolithic songs and two more experimental interludes, but And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow expands on the vision of Titanic Rising rather than simply repeating it. "God Turn Me Into a Flower" is a wonderfully restrained inclusion, with Mering's voice, delicate strings, and guest synthesizers from Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin all swirling into a blur of textures and ambience. The neon synth tones, rubbery bass guitar, and clunky drum machine beat of "Twin Flame" is more synth pop than anything Weyes Blood has created before and shakes up the flow of the album without taking it so far out of range that it feels like an outlier. And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow is another step forward for Weyes Blood, building on the stunning sonic and emotional environments she tailored on Titanic Rising and using that lushness as a means of processing destabilized times.

© Fred Thomas /TiVo

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