Arts & Culture

Artist Weyes Blood releases new album ‘Titanic Rising’

Musician Natalie Mering’s 2019 release delivers nostalgia, futurism in dream-like pop ballads

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Weyes Blood derives her stage name from Flannery O’Connor’s novel ‘Wise Blood,’ which touches on themes of isolation and existentialism that also appear in Mering’s music. Mering’s newest release addresses personal tragedy and postmodern anxieties, including love and climate change.

Under her artist name Weyes Blood, Natalie Mering released her new album “Titanic Rising” April 5, unveiling an ethereal, surreal drama that eulogizes modern existential anxiety.

On “Everyday,” one of the album’s stand-out singles,  Mering assures us that “true love is making a comeback.” This sighing call to the ideal of true love epitomizes the record’s nostalgia for a more idealistic past. But despite indulging in these sentimental, 70’s pop-like lyrics, Weyes Blood never teeters on anything mawkish or syrupy. She brings an undercurrent of unease and experimentation to her pop references. With this, Mering’s new album recalls a synthesizer-filled, Karen Carpenter-esque sound that enhances her ability to create majestic, surreal drama.

“Titanic Rising” is Mering’s fourth studio album and follows her 2016 release “Front Row Seat to Earth.” Her moniker “Weyes Blood” is taken from American author Flannery O’Connor’s first novel “Wise Blood,” which details a World War II veteran’s crisis of faith. O’Connor’s Southern Gothic novel is primarily occupied with the themes of redemption, isolation and American existentialism — all subjects tied into Weyes Blood’s darkly folkish sound.

Mering’s record holds a sense of the past that makes it feel like a family vinyl tucked away in an attic box. On the song “Andromeda,” Mering uses a combination of synthesizers, slide guitar and flawless vibrato to bring forth an impossibly beautiful ballad that feels almost too good for 2019. The song meditates, however, on the modern tragedy of love.

“Love is calling / It’s time to let it through / Find a love that will make you / I dare you to try.”

To listeners, the song evokes a Tinder-plagued world that complicates “love” as a concept but simplifies human interactions.

On Mering’s Bandcamp site, she wrote that “Andromeda plays on a few themes (mythology, astronomy, technology), and is ultimately a love song about finding something long-lasting in an ever-changing world full of distractions (and) unrealistic expectations.” With her simultaneously medieval and 70’s rock style, Mering submerges her listeners in an ageless sound.

The music video for “Everyday” also reflects Mering’s self-aware indulgence in vintage sounds, which she combines with the theme of futuristic uncertainty. Reminiscent of horror films like “Friday the 13th” and “The Shining,” the campy video follows Weyes Blood as she violently turns on couples in the forest. Mering explained in an interview with Pitchfork magazine: “The song was so upbeat, with this restless … feeling about dating. In our culture, the amount of people that get together through social media and Tinder — it almost seemed a bit like a slasher film quality of love.”

As much as “Titanic Rising” addresses personal tragedy, Mering’s album primarily focuses on postmodern existential anxieties. In the interview, Mering related the album’s title with climate change. “I want people to think about the reality of what’s going on but also to feel a sense of belonging and hope and purpose. … I’m speaking to anybody who feels overwhelmed by the sheer mass of all these problems.”

The title recalls the Titanic as an icon for nature’s rule over humanity — but Mering still maintains a sense of hope in her interpretation of the disaster. “It’s such a big, beautiful, grandiose story about the hubris of man,” Mering said of the Titanic. “To me that was so poignant… to what’s going on now.”

While themes of environmental destruction and loneliness seep through Mering’s hymns, “Titanic Rising” isn’t nihilist in any way. Its early 20th century sounds, in combination with a spaced-out lushness, gives listeners a sense of hope, at least for the music world. And even if the world is facing an apocalyptic doom, perhaps “true love is making a comeback.”

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