By Lane Moore, Contributor
[Run For Cover; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Bethlehem, WV”, “Cities of the Plain”, “August 6th”
Pioneered by their single “Julia” earlier this year, mewithoutYou’s [Untitled] EP is a testament to the band’s ability to innovate and experiment while remaining true to the core components that characterize their sonic profile. The band released a statement, calling this past year “one of the most prolific periods of their career.” In addition, the [Untitled] EP is taken from a larger body of work, which will be their upcoming, also untitled, LP.
Characterized by melancholy and somber arrangement, [Untitled] enters a ruminant expanse as the crystalline vocals of Aaron Weiss pervade the space around listeners. The opening track, “Bethlehem, WV”, begins with synths fading in, followed by sanguine and reverberated guitar. Weiss implements his familiar style of writing, discussing the nature of existence through religious themes. An acoustic guitar holds the rhythm behind it all as listeners are left to ponder Weiss’ brooding questions. It all comes to close with another gentle line of synth.
“Winter Solstice (alt. version)” is set apart by the inclusion of bells and its unmistakable themes of personal suffering. The Great Flood, the Black Plague and World War I are alluded to as a means of conveying that idea. Lyrically, “Dirty Air” is both clever and interesting. Listeners are met with a chorus that consists of the French phrase “ce n’est pas une chanson sur une peinture d’une pipe,” which translates to “this is not a song about a painting of a pipe” — a reference to the painting “The Treachery of Images” by René Magritte.
In “Cities of the Plain”, mewithoutYou’s audience first experiences an ominous introduction. Bells, guitar and synth metaphysically dance between the right and left sides of the speakers. Concerning lyrical content, Weiss references both history and astrology. He also touches on theology by structuring the entire song in the same manner as the biblical Song of Solomon. Weiss cries out with both restraint and grace before the song ends with the muted picking of more delay-heavy guitar.
This muted picking creates the transition to the next track, “Existential Dread, Six Hour’s Time”. Drums and keys echo with an octiviser behind them, creating a full and industrial sound. “August 6th” is another story of personal suffering, in which Weiss cries out to the same heavens he continually references. With vulnerability he exclaims “sometimes when it’s quiet, my heart feels like Guernica!” finalizing the build and allowing for the crashing of symbols and the bellowing of guitars. [Untitled] comes to a close with “Kristy w/ the Sparkling Teeth”, an acoustic ballad which features buttery guitar tones and ends with the solemn calling of horns and synthesizers.
MewithoutYou are as thoughtful as ever on [Untitled]. Weiss’ poetry is ripe with wisdom and sorrow, and the equally pensive instrumentation makes a fantastic pairing. On this rare occasion in which listeners experience the docile side of the band, the tension of guitars and vocals begging to be set free creates a new dynamic. That makes the moments in which the group brings crescendos to fruition feel like everything.