Ten Stories

Written by: TL on 08/06/2012 13:02:07

That mewithoutYou is a pretty good band is a fact I think most can agree on, both based on my general perception and on expectations visible around the internet, for the band's fifth studio album "Ten Stories". For me personally, the funny thing about them is that I actually consider them a band of a more unique style and of more integrity than other bands about which I am generally more excited about, which may read like a paradox, but really it's not that unusual for bands that stray from the beaten path to audience gratification and rather head in more experimental directions.

And mewithoutYou have indeed been experimenting, mixing indie and post-hardcore on their first few albums and then exploring folk, fables and moral allegories on 09's brilliant "it's all crazy! it's all false! it's all a dream! it's alright!". As good as that album was however, the change of direction did cause some concern in the band's fanbase, which partly why many have looked forward to "Ten Stories", on which the band try to combine their elements old and new, into a manifestation of their sound supposedly more potent than any that's gone before it.

They do so by conjuring up a very vivid and immersive soundscape which, while certainly richer in moments where they get electric and flex their muscles, still seems primarily as an immensely detailed backdrop for vocalist Aaron Weiss to do his intriguing story telling. As on "It's all crazy", Weiss has chosen to explore his moral and emotional considerations through fable and allegory, with the "Ten Stories" on offer all being chapters in a larger story about circus animals that escape after their train crashes in Montana in the 1870's.

The mix of ideas loud and quiet generally works well on the album, and fans that have yearned for a return of the noisier mewithoutYou will likely embrace tunes like "February, 1878", "Fox's Dream Of The Log Flume" and "All Circles", which all see the band live things up compared to the stripped back folk approach of the previous album. Especially the two latter songs are worth mentioning for offering some of the most engaging moments of the album, which come along with some highly memorable refrains in quieter numbers like "Nine Stories" and "Elephant In The Dock", both of which remind me more of the material from "It's all crazy" despite also making use of full band instrumentation.

I should squeeze in that it would be weird to write this review without making note of Paramore's Hayley Williams' contributions as guest vocalist on "Fox's Dream Of The Log Flume" and "All Circles", seeing as much has been made of them. Personally though, as much of a fan of hers as I am, I wouldn't say there's overly much to get worked up about, as the best I have to say about her singing here, is that her normally distinct style does not come in and disrupt mewithoutYou's sound. It's just that seeing as they don't really utilise her strengths in the songs, I feel like they might as well have had any lesser known backing singer do these parts as well, and the whole guest appearance is maybe more of a story than its sound actually merits.

This is hardly at all detrimental however, to an album that only consolidates mewithoutYou's status as one of the most unique and consistent bands in today's music scene. My only gripes with "Ten Stories" is that, when I compare it to "It's all crazy", I personally don't feel it making quite as strong an impression, which I attribute to the melodies and stories on the previous album being just a little bit stronger. On the flipside, it's nice to hear that the band is doing well at re-integrating wilder and noisier ideas into their style, and while I think mewithoutYou is still a band that's experimental enough to require some extra attention to be properly appreciated, I also think that when they're given this attention, "Ten Stories" will reward you with as interesting and long-lasting a listen as any of the band's albums gone before it.


Download: Elephant In The Dock, Fox's Dream Of The Log Flume, Nine Stories, All Circles
For The Fans Of: Manchester Orchestra, Bright Eyes, The Decemberists

Release Date 15.05.2012
Pine Street

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