So for their 2012 release Ten Stores, alt-pantheism band mewithoutYou continue on the path forged by their 2009 album It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright – one of a decidedly less aggressive, almost timid approach to indie rock.
But where It’s All Crazy! felt flaccid and uninspired, Ten Stories is much more nuanced, with layers of unique textures and sounds. But its primary downside is the same as its predecessors: a failure to incite the same urgency and anxiousness as Catch For Us The Foxes and Brother, Sister.
Though I did include it on my list of honorable mentions for the best releases from 2012. And I get that those records are from a bygone era. I do. And I also get that it’s important for artists to progress and do their own thing and blah, blah. And maybe it’s my rampant fatigue from writing about something new every day this year, but man… the more that I listen to this brand of folk-inspired indie rock, I’m less and less enthused, even if they are one of my all-time favorite bands.
Sure, that opinion sounds whiny and ignorant; not “getting” a genre like folk is downright heresy, Internet. I hear you. But with so much goodness out there, with a never-ending block of album releases, how does one have time for albums that are mostly pedestrian?
Which isn’t to say it’s a bad record – per se, at least. For instance, opener “February 1878” is delightful. Following in the footsteps of “Nice and Blue (Pt. 2)” on Brother, Sister and “Bullet to Binary (pt. 2)” on It’s All Crazy!, this successor to the ridiculously catchy “January 1979” from Catch For Us The Foxes is a prequel, with the story occurring 101 years prior to the car crash that mewithoutYou vocalist Aaron Weiss couldn’t help but laugh at.
“February 1878” has much of the same crunchy tone and Weiss’ signature speak-singing as its younger/temporally younger brethren. That’s pretty much it in terms of aggression on this record, though.
Is my attempt at looking at this album ungrateful? Is it because this record lacks the same surprises as previous releases? Or that I’ve grown accustomed to the way in which I wish to remember mewithoutYou on the whole?
These are the types of thoughts this project has revealed to me over time. It’s been a long year, and the foundation of my perception of music in general has been shaken. Deep down, I know that Ten Stories is a pretty good record, but it’s nothing to write home about. But I wonder if that’s just because I favor Catch For Us The Foxes and Brother, Sister in a nostalgic and bittersweet way.
I don’t know, man. Enjoy what you like. I just have a tough time when bands that I adore put out records that are ostensibly tame and lack the same chutzpah they once championed.
From Ten Stories, this is “All Circles” –
Standout tracks: “February 1878” and “Auburgine”
Weakest track: “East Enders Wives”
RIYL: The timidity of It’s All Crazy!