Just as there was a time when it felt like all pop songs were written about drugs (then sex, then love, then crying in the club), soon there will come a day when all music will be about the end of the world. Natalie Mering, aka Weyes Blood’s third album Titanic Rising — an appropriately absurd and cinematic title, and nod to the James Cameron film which influenced it — is the ecocritical flagship for a world in which the iceberg has already melted.
Retro-futuristic synths combine with classic, 70s songwriting in the same vein as Carole King; the overdubbed vocals of Karen Carpenter, the twists and turns of Laura Nyro, the stridency of Harry Nilsson, the heart of Judee Sill; the sound that’s come to be defined as ‘timeless’. It’s an impressive tapestry of influences which make themselves apparent from the album’s get-go, but they’re tinged with the pathos of deliberately-dated synths, and the understanding that no art can truly be timeless in a world that is soon to melt down to the size of a dewdrop.
The composition on Titanic Rising rivals even the most ambitious and cerebral of today’s songwriters, but in a way that never seems impressive for the sake of being impressive. Instead, Mering lulls you towards her point of view with a soft insistence. It’s Mering’s quietness that convinces, and no more so than on the album’s standout track, ‘Movies’. Waves of synth swallow her memories of watching movies as a child, and her plea never to leave. It’s the sound of a ship capsized.
Photo by Brett Stanley.