One of my life’s greatest regrets is not being made aware of Weyes Blood earlier in my life. Natalie Laura Mering, known as a member of her band’s collective name Weyes Blood, is one of today’s most gifted singer songwriters.
While I don’t find much home in her younger noise music background, it is Weyes Blood’s 2019 release Titanic Rising that fills me with such longing. That project remains one of the best albums released in the 2010s, flying upsettingly under the collective radar. I was among the unaware masses, only coming to learn of her brilliance years after the album's release. It is this reason that made me so ecstatic to hear of Weyes Blood’s newest release titled And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow was coming out much sooner than later. Coming off of such a monstrously impressive album like Titanic Rising it placed quite the pressure on her newest project, one that pleasantly soars despite the achievement it followed.
A Mournful Boost of Serotonin
And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow is a gorgeous booklet of secular hymns. The longing, heartbreak, and downright existentialism that drips from the track list is palpable, reflecting a upsettingly common worldview in
our current postmodern age. Acting as a second chapter in a trilogy started by Titanic Rising, Hearts Aglow feels like a catastrophe as well as the blackness that follows. Titanic Rising was a soulful album, filled to the brim with lyrics dealing with heartbreak, loss of innocence and joy, with equally haunting production to match. However, the album was grounded in classic pop energy, giving a sense of damaged optimism that carried a tearful smile across the record. Where Titanic Rising was a therapeutic cry, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow is a dissociative breakdown. Weyes Blood feels more detached, more alone, and more shattered than she has in her previous work. Tracks like God Turn Me Into a Flower and The Worst is Done see some of her most broken emotions spilling onto the record like ink on a page. The single It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody externalizes that feeling of detachment, seeing the same signs of isolation in everyone around her. And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow feels like a desperate call into the void, and the need for a response back.
The Saddest Film Soundtrack Around
Despite the damaged feelings that are layered through the record, there is little to be found in the tracklist except amazement and joy. Known for gorgeous layered vocals and cinematic production, Weyes Blood continues her use of awe inspiring sounds in this album. The production is filled with layered strings, synths, and vocals that could bring tears to the eyes. From tracks like Children of the Empire, that’s filled with cinematic splendor befitting a classical symphony, to guitar driven songs like Grapevine pulled straight from the California pop rush of the 70s. The lush, colorful instrumentation on the record is nothing new for Weyes Blood, but she leans into the orchestral nature of the album. Long winded phrases of strings and synth harmonies open the tracklist into a much larger and more cinematic space.
Despite Glowing, Darkness Remains
While the soundscape of the album is full of emotion and flavor, there unfortunately are some things left to be desired, both musically and cinematically. The album is an achievement for sure, however it becomes this achievement when seeing it as a second chapter, a part of an even greater whole. And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow lacks a level of musical and thematic climax, acting as a second act rather than a self confident album. The tracks can stand on their own, but they don’t carry a development in the sound or emotional theme. Weyes Blood begins as a detached loner who laments for lost humanity, and remains that way into the final moments. Of course, it's not expected of her to fix her outlook in one single release, but without a sense of climax the album sounds more like that of a long stanza, and less like a singular album. The same can also be said musically, as outside of the opening track, the songs on the album seem to leave as they started, leaving little to chew on once they’re gone. They sound amazing, and Weyes Blood’s lyrical ability is as sharp as ever, but once the tracks are over there is little to be found other than a confident, if uninspired, “that was good”.
The Night is Always Darkest Before the Dawn
Weyes Blood remains a generational talent that has spent far too long unappreciated for her talents. While there may be a light sense of what could have been, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow is another bright feather in an all deserving cap. From lush production to an introspective and emotional maturity, the album is a much needed plea for humanity. I only hope we are strong enough to answer it.
Contact Elijah Wachs with comments at @eawachsbsu.edu or @captaincrogman on Instagram.