mewithoutYou – Ten Stories album review

The stories of mewithoutYou’s new album add up to, in more ways than one, an incredible journey. On “Ten Stories,” lead singer Aaron Weiss’ lyrics tell the listener of a 19th-century traveling circus’s train crash. This type of pandemonious scenario plays perfectly to an experimental rock group, inviting an influx of screaming vocals and hard drum lines. But mewithoutYou embodies the story subtly, opting instead to begin the narrative, and the opening track “February, 1878,” with a spoken monologue over distorted guitar riffs.

The album moves along much like a novel, pushing forward with increasing drama and complexity. The melodically-light “Cardiff Giant” (the lyrics, including “I often wonder if I’ve already died,” remain largely morose) transforms unexpectedly into a chaotic crossroads, a shouted soliloquy joining the tuneful chorus. Like an artist mixing metals, mewithoutYou combines different vocal styles—including guest appearances from Paramore’s Hayley Williams–to create intricate, layered pieces, like the choral mastery of the final track, “All Circles.”

“Ten Stories” starts off strong, with a clear theme and a cohesive yet evolving song sequence. But like many narratives, the album lags towards the middle. Weiss pulls back vocally in tracks like “Elephant in the Dock” and “Nine Stories,” his monotone and a steady drum beat marking them as a sort of “falling action.” Though less bombastic than the drum-heavy and Williams-featuring “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume,” the songs hold their own acclaim in their effortlessness.

The real journey lies within the music itself, within mewithoutYou’s progression into a confident, versatile musical force. The traveling circus ensures a common focus for “Ten Stories,” while giving the band enough room to show their stuff. And show they do. “Ten Stories” delights the listener as a more dimensional and complex record that equally showcases the post-hardcore techniques they’ve been perfecting for the past decade and the newer skills they’ve developed along the journey. If it took a traveling circus’ truck crashing and burning to bring mewithoutYou to this accomplished denouement, well, then it was a worthy sacrifice.

By Natalie Howard

In a fit of teenage angst, Natalie Howard moved from Glendale, CA to New York City for college. She stuck around after graduation and currently eats and sleeps in the East Village.

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