Wednesday, April 15, 2015
mewithoutYou -- It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright
I recently read a very interesting interview with mewithoutYou guitarist, Michael Weiss. Therein, Weiss states that the band have a "core sound of competency," and that mewithoutYou lived more fully in that sound on their second and third albums, Catch for Us the Foxes, and Brother, Sister, respectively. Their fourth album, It's All Crazy..., does not play to mewithoutYou's core sound of competency.
I get wanting to branch out. mewithoutYou's dalliances with folk music on It's All Crazy... speak to a band who doesn't want to be placed in a box. They also speak to a band who most definitely should not be recording folk music (unless it's only a dabble). The songs here just aren't very interesting. And...HEY!!! I'VE JUST BEEN HIT WITH A TRACK-BY-TRACK BULLET!
1. "Every Thought a Thought of You" -- pleasant, but it just sort of happens.
2. "The Fox, the Crow and the Cookie" --always tricks me into thinking I'll like the album this time around because it's one of the few songs on It's All Crazy... where the band really put it all together. Enjoyable and insightful lyrics on human nature, great arrangement, interesting instrumentation (love the horns). Unfortunately, though, this song is an exception and not the rule.
3. "The Angel of Death Came to David's Room" -- it's not bad, it happens, and then it's over.
4. "Goodbye, I!" -- barely registers. Aaron's lyrics here, and in many places on It's All Crazy..., are too dense and opaque.
5. "A Stick, a Carrot & String" - I've always thought of It's All Crazy... as some sort of strange Islamic folk album, but this song is a simple, lovely telling of the gospel, with an arrangement that is quiet, yet moving and interesting. A definite highlight.
6. "Bullet to Binary (Pt. Two)" -- pt. one is so much more memorable than this. It's just so weird, yet all the acoustic strumming and the odd mid-song breakdown somehow don't register.
7. "Timothy Hay" --it's almost good, yet it's also so hippy-dippy it's not quite there. I don't know. The "what a beautiful God there must be" outro should be so much more powerful.
8. "Fig with a Bellyache" -- here it is, the worst song mewithoutYou have recorded up until this point (April of 2015). It's almost antagonistic to the listener, with the obnoxious background vocals, Aaron's stacatto cadence, and lyrics that are supposed to champion purity, but instead just turn sex into some unnatural, disgusting thing. An awful song.
9. "Cattail Down" -- if this song was just a little more aggressive, it could have found its way onto Brother, Sister. Also, if it was just a little more memorable, though the outro does stick in one's head.
10. "The King Beetle on a Coconut Estate" -- an album highlight, along with "The Fox, the Crow and the Cookie" and "A Stick, a Carrot & String." Strong build, and the horns and strings really work well here. Aaron's telling of an old Sufi story is pretty thrilling.
11. "Allah, Allah, Allah" -- this album is so disjointed, closing it out is a difficult task. "Allah, Allah, Allah" is pretty good, but doesn't quite feel earned after all the silliness that has preceded it. Still, the closing lines "If you want to sing forgiveness songs, come down and join our band, and we'll cut you like a sword and sing forgiveness songs" is satisfyingly apt, and oddly satisfying.
And that's it. I don't want to talk about It's All Crazy... anymore, or listen to it ever again. The only reason it gets a point above five is that there are more really good songs (3), than really awful ones (1), though the rest is close to below even average. A six it is, and go away.
2009 Tooth & Nail Records
1. Every Thought a Thought of You 3:31
2. The Fox, the Crow and the Cookie 3:31
3. The Angel of Death Came to David's Room 3:54
4. Goodbye, I! 3:50
5. A Stick, a Carrot & String 3:06
6. Bullet to Binary (Pt. Two) 5:12
7. Timothy Hay 3:37
8. Fig with a Bellyache 3:31
9. Cattail Down 3:47
10. The King Beetle on a Coconut Estate 6:01
11. Allah, Allah, Allah 4:55