June 2, 2009
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it’s all crazy! it’s all false! it’s all a dream! it’s alright


It’s sometimes hard to tell if Aaron Weiss is speaking or singing. The gravel-voiced frontman of mewithoutYou rolls his lyrics around in his mouth as though he’s considering their meaning, offering each word with thoughtful precision and often eschewing obvious vocal melodies in favor of spoken tones. On mwY’s fourth album, it becomes clear Weiss may actually be preaching. The album’s lyrics are inspired by a lengthy list of spiritual texts, folk tales and the teachings of Sufi mystic Bawa Muhaiyaddeen–all of which are referenced in the disc’s liner notes–removing Weiss from the tales of personal relationships that have populated the band’s previous work.

As his bandmates explore largely acoustic instrumental landscapes, Weiss looks outward, grappling on a higher level with the spirituality that’s always been present in mwY tracks. “Bullet To Binary (Part Two)” combines acoustic and electric guitars with rising and falling rhythms to achieve the raw, immediate aesthetic that envokes a personal, emotional connection with the band’s performance, particularly as Weiss moans, “We all well know/We’re gonna reap what we sow/But grace, we all know/Can take the place of all we owe.” The propulsive, string-tinged “The Fox, The Crow And The Cookie,” which is perhaps most similar musically to 2006’s Brother, Sister, comes directly from a moralistic children’s story told by Muhaiyaddeen, while the folksy “Goodbye, I!” references the Tao Te Ching.

While much of the record concerns itself with God, morality and issues of a seemingly specific nature, it doesn’t feel niche (read: religious), perhaps because the music is so compelling and Weiss’ vocal delivery is so hypnotic–much like the rest of mewithoutYou’s catalog. There’s a nuance to the songs, requiring thoughtfulness and patience on the part of the listener. Perhaps that’s just another facet of Weiss’s ongoing sermon. (TOOTH & NAIL) Emily Zemler

GO DOWNLOAD: “Cattail Down”

Written by AltPress