New Release: mewithoutYou, [Untitled]

in New Music by

mewithoutYou. They might seem beset by the most hipsterish of affectations – yes, the capitalization is precise, yes, they really do eschew melody for a sort of mad free-associative sprint around the dictionary, and yes, their new album really is called [Untitled] (crucially contrasted with a limited release of the same tracks, an EP called [untitled], which came out in August) – but the thing that grabs you, eventually, about this band, is that they really, really mean it.

Quite frankly, it’s amazing how they manage to blend together some of the most uncommon musical elements to create an unexpectedly cohesive track. In their newest release, the group of five has once again managed to infuse life into an assortment of unrelated musical elements.

The summer’s EP version, [untitled], was a softer and more melodious set of numbers, as opposed to the full-length album [Untitled], which is an enlightening and revelatory body of work that’s fuller and more varied than the EP. Fans of the band generally loved the subtler tracks in the extended play. However, for the few mewithoutYou followers who came off feeling like the EP was a bit underwhelming, the full-length album makes up for it.

For those who thought that perhaps Aaron Weiss’s crew of beautiful weirdoes had found an even keel for the first time in 15 years, the full version of [Untitled] plays like a playful gotcha, scored for an uncompromising rock four-piece. A heavy, smashing record that pulls out the best elements from indie rock, indie emo, and indie metal (see the connection?), [Untitled]’s tracks swiftly progress from strength to strength, and build up in intensity without waiting to ease you into the record. It was the EP’s job to ease us into the world of [untitled] and [Untitled], and the album feels no need to hang around making small-talk.

mewithoutyou

Opening track “9.27 a.m., 7/29,” crashes out like a wave of anger, before the more balanced “Julia” hides its heart behind more muted screams and rounder guitar tones, and “Another Head for Hydra,” awes the listener with the juxtaposition of louder percussion elements on the quieter notes.

The next few numbers are a sheer delight to listen to, right from “[dormouse sighs]” to “2,459 miles.” Between these five tracks, the band has come up with some of their finest experimental work to date. “Winter Solstice” and “Flee, Thou Matadors” are melody-soaked but no less uncompromising, shades of light and dark that are balanced like careful monoliths.

The anger is back in “Wendy & Betsy,” as the screams return before the music is pulled together for “New Wine, New Skins,” before boiling up all over again in “Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore,” which is one of the most chilling songs the band has ever created. It’s a complicated track that features a mix of several layers of discomfort and enigma, and without a doubt, it’s the high point of this twisted, wonderful album.

The final number in [Untitled], “Break on Through (to the Other Side) [pt. Two],” sees Weiss taking a typically balls-out swing – not everyone has the guts to mimic The Doors – but then using it for a characteristic musing on self-discovery. “Someday, I’ll find me,” he croon-mumbles, and by the time you reach the last notes on the album, you’ll probably have already found yourself, because when you listen to music like this, it’s impossible not to feel the notes in your very bones. And that’s a kind of magic only a band like mewithoutYou is capable of.

Photos courtesy of Press Here Now

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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