It’s been over three years since Weyes Blood released Titanic Rising, but for me, it never really left. It was a great album to put on throughout the pandemic, what with its gently comforting symphonic pop textures as well as its tendency to mix bedroom reflection with big ideas about man-made catastrophe. Of course, the impending doom that singer-songwriter Natalie Mering was hinting at on Titanic Rising had more to do with climate change than with that pandemic that we didn’t see coming in mid-2019. Still, these two avoidable tragedies have carried the same overwhelming despair with them, so the album continued to feel appropriate to listen to during these strange few years.
That said, there was always a constant source of light and optimism shrouded in darkness throughout Titanic Rising that was easy to latch onto. Here, it feels like the darkness has won out a bit. It’s an album that Mering (unsurprisingly) conceived of partially while stuck in lockdown and was having to deal with that lack of human connection that for whatever reason still feels hard to ever recapture in a normal way. On “It’s Not Me, It’s Everybody”, Mering explores this idea by describing being at a party with actual flesh and blood humans, and yet still getting hung up on the fact that none of them understand her. With its slow build and 6+ minute running time, it’s a bit of an odd pick for a lead single from an artist that has occasionally crafted some pretty catchy songs, but when you hear the rest of And In The Darkness, it makes more sense.
The songs are a little more spacious here and draw on atmosphere and feeling more than your typical verse-chorus-verse, though Mering can still do that effortlessly on a song like “The Worst Is Done”, which breezily sums up our current moment of uneasy relief from darker days in the rearview. While the songs overall feel a little more amorphous and murky than Titanic Rising, this latest release has a lot of the same inviting sheen of that album while Mering’s voice continues to be a versatile wonder. It makes sense that she has said that And In The Darkness is the second part of a trilogy of albums, which makes it a little easier to understand as the more difficult and melancholy Act II before some sort of rosy resolution. Though considering the nature of these first two albums, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be at least a little bit of despair to accompany whatever beauty lies in what comes next.