by Catalina Berretta
On her fourth album release, Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering has given listeners her most ambitious project yet. Aptly titled, Titanic Rising is a grand exploration of faith, littered with confessionals as Mering sings about trusting yourself throughout change. Apart from making appearances on folky tracks like “Grey Area” from Jerry Paper’s 2018 album Like A Baby, “Honey” from Drugdealer’s 2019 album Raw Honey and her folk-synth EP collaboration with Ariel Pink in 2017, this is Weyes Blood’s first project since 2016’s Front Row Seat to Earth.
Titanic Rising engulfs you in a heavy, drowsy texture, with Mering’s voice acting as a guiding light. On its cover, Mering floats underwater in a childhood bedroom, symbolic of the unconscious. We are submerged with her, watching as her pale face turns to the window. Most tracks can be described as ballads, starting with the opening track “A Lot’s Gonna Change.” Swelling instrumentals rise and fall as Mering pleads the listener to “Try to leave it all behind / In your lifetime.” In “Something to Believe,” she begs for “something bigger and louder than the voices in me” with the same intensity, not shying away from grand moments but rather calling for them. In “Wild Time,” she searches for meaning in these losses, “Let these changes make you more holy and true / Otherwise, it just made it complicated for nothing.” Mering is clearly reaching for something beyond her grasp but struggles to create a sense of wonder, with many chord progressions unfolding predictably.
“Everyday” brings along a much more chipper sound, a medley of psychedelic pop. It could almost be described as a bop with the chorus’ layered melodies and “ba pa pa’s” like a Beatles song. “Picture Me Better” gives listeners a more classical sound, still filled with lyrics that show Mering’s yearning for significance. A violin accompanies a soft guitar as she sings, “Waiting for something with meaning / To come through soon.”
“Titanic Rising” is one of two instrumental tracks on the album, inducing the listener into a dream state and leading them to “Movies,” one of the album’s strongest tracks. In its music video, Mering’s body floats in a deep, dark pool, the white fabric of her dress tangling in the water. Her voice is soft even as it reaches majestic heights, following the ceaseless arpeggiated chords and warm muffled synthesizers that submerge us in that deep bottomless pool. This track is only rivaled in magnificence by “Andromeda,” her first single, co-produced by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado. Slide guitars accompany an organ as Mering sings, “Love is calling / It’s time to give to you / Something you can hold onto / I dare you to try.” So rich in desperation, one can’t help but get chills.
The continuous melodies of the tracks echo the likes of Father John Misty, but despite its grandeur, Titanic Rising at times falls flat. It presents itself with no mystery, no unexpected twists or turns. From the first track, there is no sense of wonder. There are times when the melody rushes to catch up with the lyrics, bending its form to fit the words. Mering’s voice is astoundingly beautiful, which is how she manages to pull it off– but at times, she uses it as a crutch, making a song forgettable. Nevertheless, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Titanic Rising is a refreshing and awe-inspiring experience, a hypnotic inquisition of conviction and self and love.