REVIEW: mewithoutYou – ‘Pale Horses’

Artist: mewithoutYou
Album: Pale Horses
Label: Run For Cover Records
Genre: Life, or Indie Rock

It is ironic that I found this review incredibly difficult to write when I am writing about mewithoutYou, and their famed lyricism created by Aaron Weiss, a vocalist who flows through words as easily as a breeze through trees, or a car speeding down an empty road. But what am I to write? “A few more lines..I thought I left that all behind” rings Weiss on the first track of Pale Horses, appropriately named “Pale Horse.” mewithoutYou has always been a band that is much better felt than read, showcased by their incredible atmospheres created on their albums and live shows, for they are a band surrounded by stories, they do fairly well narrating the story themselves.

If it’s a quick input you want, this album is very good. Maybe it’s first listening lust, but I feel that Pale Horses will be seen as one of, if not the best album by the band to date. It features everything the band is known for, and them some. But if you know that this album deserves more than that like I do, follow on.

Much of mewithoutYou’s imagery has been lined by a controlled narrative, a storytelling, recited by lyricist Aaron Weiss. While that play on fable and fortune is felt with Pale Horses, there is also a sense of personal urgency that spill onto the wide palate of sound the band creates. From the opening “Pale Horse,” with lines like “Comforted by sequences of sounds we knew: ‘you abide in me, and I in you, but what exactly should I do?” there is a personal attachment with Pale Horses that has been absent from past mewithoutYou releases, and it only illuminates the album even more, and makes those moments all the more invigorating – but more on that later.

“Watermelon Ascot” and “D-Minor” are tracks that are sure to resonate well with existing mewithoutYou fans, channeling the famed eras of Catch For Us The Foxes and Brother, Sister, but it is with “Mexican War Streets” that Pale Horses truly gains vivid color.

There is a moment–yes, a moment–a little over a minute into “Mexican War Streets” where the band explodes into one of the finest musical moments they have ever created. With vocals screaming, “Nature had another plan,” and “It warms my heart to watch your world fall apart,” paired with resounding drums and guitars it is near impossible for the listener to not come alive. Followed right by “Red Cow,” mewithoutYou are relentless with their emotional onslaught, crafting interweaving guitars that flow as a wave over the vocals surfing at the top.

While Aaron Weiss’ performances on any mewithoutYou track is always a favored topic of discussion, it is with Pale Horses specifically where it truly feels as if Weiss uses his voice beautifully as another instrument, not necessarily a resonating voice above everything else. He is more melodic, contained, and certainly at his best. Creating melodies far more infectious than anything else he has done, every word is backed by personal and sonorous meaning. Everything with purpose.

“This is not the first time God has died” rings the outro of “D-Minor,” showcasing Weiss’ struggle with personal invigoration and existential output. Continued on with “Dorothy,” speaking, “Dear Sister Margaret, I said, ‘If you can change your shape that easily can you take the form of my dead father? Because I think he would have liked to meet my wife, and I know for a fact he would have liked my wife,” the moments in mewithoutYou that everyone loves to scream at shows, to friends, etc., have all the more weight behind them this time around.

Past “Dorothy” into the second half of the album, the band’s musicianship becomes much more lush, as if flowers begin to vividly bloom to coincide with the sweeping guitars, and soaring melodies. Everything is at its best here. Guitars are much more intricate and cooperative with each other, the bass is thick enough, but not overpowering, and the drums explode much like the vocals exactly when they need to.

With “Birnam Wood,” a personal favorite from the LP, comes a chorus that is entirely uplifting, all while containing the urgency felt on the track before that point. Guitars are quiet as needed beforehand, and everything ascends into place as the song erupts into pure beauty. Sung with a little more force on the second chorus, the midpoint of “Birnam Wood” may be one of my favorite moments sculpted by the band yet.

Closing with the eviscerating “Rainbow Signs,” Pale Horses ends with beauty, calm, ferocity, electricity, urgency, power, and a slew of other words that Weiss is much better at constructing than I. Point being: Pale Horses has everything, and I truly mean that. It showcases the band at their most musical diverse, with a heightened sense of melody and atmosphere, the music now illuminates the vocals more than ever before, and vice versa. This is a piece of art that is meant to be felt, over and over again, signaling new forms of emotion each time because it is that dense with spirit, beauty, angst, sorrow, and inspiration. Listen closely, for this is the best album of the year thus far, and will be incredibly difficult to top.

SCORE: 9.5/10
Review written by Drew Caruso — Follow him on Twitter.

Drew Caruso
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