Southeastern Pennsylvania's Natalie Mering, aka Natalie Wiseblood from Jackie O Motherfucker, aka Weyes Bluhd, aka Weyes Blood, has a second Weyes Blood album following 2011's now-sold-out effort on Not Not Fun. Expect mystical folk-pop warblings with haunting, primitive backing and full-voiced but wistful vocals.
Vinyl LP £14.16 MEX1861
LP on Mexican Summer.
- Includes download code
CD £11.49 MEX1862
CD on Mexican Summer.
Natalie Wiseblood is one of the Jackie O Motherfucker lot but she also releases solo material as Weyes Blood (and variations thereof - just on the promo CD in my hand there are two different spellings). 'The Innocents' is the first we've heard from her since 2011's 'The Outside Room' but the aesthetic remains pretty similar - pure, sad vocals and confessional lyrics over simple and heartbreaking arrangements, generally just a piano or a guitar.
Her vocal delivery is really compelling. "Rare choral purity", says the press release, and it does have a somewhat spiritual feel, but it also reminds me of the distracted stoicism of Nico and the gothic soul of Zola Jesus. The piano led tracks are especially bleak - I'm liking 'Some Winters' with its repetitive ascending piano motif that repeats in a glitchy wobble like it's echoing out from the past while Blood croons out a heartbroken lament, but there's a big contrast in the folkier numbers like 'Summer' which follows it - a reflective and twangy ballad that's got a sort of Suzanne Vega-meets-Joni Mitchell vibe. Although there are moments where the album drags, generally when she strays from the slow-and-simple formula that serves her clear voice and stark lyricism so well, another highlight comes on 'February Skies', a skeletal drumbeat and buzzing bass plod give a gnarly edge to the almost medieval-sounding song which soon unfolds around them with a chilly inevitability. Perfect stuff for sheltering at home as the winter nights draw in around you.
9/10 Robert White 1st October 2015
Natalie Mering's solo career arc has given me much delight and is superbly capped off with The Innocents. Take her 2007 debut, Strange Chalices of Seeing: a terrifying blackness of bell chimes, warped tapes, guitars played by poltergeists, all with her mournful voice buried below. It's almost inaudible even when it appears, and forever at the mercy of the creaking, despairing strata above it. This dark miscellany came together in 2008's Liquor Castle single, where drums and guitar joined vocals, dangerously resembling the shape of a song. By 2011's The Outside Room the tumult took a back seat, with Mering's voice meeting halfway, beautiful and distant in both style and production. Her performing name transitioned over this time from Natalie Wiseblood to Weyes Bluhd, then finally reconfigured to Weyes Blood.
I love framing The Outside Room with its predecessors. It's ultimately a teenage breakup album made with over a decade's experience of recording music under the Weyes Blood moniker, whose back catalogue would startle many of those charmed by her current sound. As a result she unaffectedly adds a maturity, depth and boldness to the singer-songwriter craft.
Allowing other musicians to accompany her has allowed Mering to execute a pop record. Land of Broken Dreams (ukulele), Some Winters (piano) and Bad Magic (acoustic guitar) are all cuts capable of taking over the world. Summer, Requiem for Forgiveness and the soundtrackish Montrose all evoke the cryptic moments from The Outside Room that vanish before your eyes before you can fully understand what they've just done to you. Perhaps best of all, we finally get to hear her numinous and madrigalian voice accompanying itself via the decidedly un-Medieval technique of multi-tracking. And that is how she chose to close this album off, with the almost whimsical Bound to Earth.
I'll step down now as it's clear I enjoy this LP. Come on team, let's finally get her over to Leeds.
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