In retrospect, it makes sense that after one listen, I (undeservedly) wrote off Weyes Blood’s last album, 2016’s Front Row Seat To Earth. For one, it came out around the time I had finally embraced streaming music as an integral part of my music-listening habits. So I might have felt a bit overwhelmed by being able to easily listen to every single album that got decent reviews. Also, it was an easy album to lump in with other artists like Father John Misty or Whitney – who seem to be channeling the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene of the early ’70s.
This reemergence of sunny, polished California pop is something I haven’t embraced completely, though I suppose I did include that Tobias Jesso Jr. album on my top ten albums of 2015. But this latest album from Weyes Blood, the project fronted by Natalie Mering, is something else. Sure, it does have a kind of pleasantness and sheen (and even some very ’70s George Harrison guitar licks) that you’d find in the music of yesteryear, but I don’t think Titanic Rising is ever interested in being a straight-up retro pop record.
Instead, it’s going for something a bit more ethereal. Mering’s voice will often start off singing a song like a bedroom ballad, and before you know it, Mering and Jonathan Rado’s spacious production will have turned it into a sweeping epic. I suppose the most striking example for me is the song “Something To Believe”, which starts sounding a bit like a modest Joni Mitchell song, but then builds into something more anthemic and beautiful than a mere pop diddy.
On the other end of the spectrum is the single “Movies”, which is a bit more modernist, with it’s looping synth-line and the depressing sentiment that things are never as wonderous as they are on the big screen. As I mentioned, it’s an album rooted in classic pop, but there are a lot of little modern touches in the album’s gorgeous production, all of which wraps quite naturally around Mering’s gorgeous voice. And true to the album’s imagery, it’s the kind of music I could swim around in for days.