- Released: April 5th 2019
- Length: 42:22
- Label: Sub Pop
- Metacritic Score: 91/100
- Peak UK Chart Position: 68
- For Fans Of: Fleetwood Mac, Angel Olsen, Joni Mitchell
What The Critics Said:
“As much as Weyes Blood sounds like the past, though, Titanic Rising isn’t mere pastiche. Instead, it’s a decisively modern album, born out of the modern world, full of modern fears and anxieties.”Stereo Gum
What The Artist Said:
“I want people to think about the reality of what’s going on but also to feel a sense of belonging and hope and purpose … I hope you could have a smile during the apocalypse and be grateful for whatever conditions exist, because life is a beautiful thing.”
Weyes Blood’s (Natalie Hering) world altered beyond recognition in 2019. After three solo releases across the 2010s which failed to make any notable commercial impact, she became one of the most lauded breakout artists of the year with her fourth album Titanic Rising, transporting her from popular obscurity to mainstream chart success.
Raised in a ‘Bible Belt household’ in Pennsylvania, her music, both thematically and lyrically, explores spirituality and the human condition in the contemporary world. Combining the sounds of 1960s psychedelia, folk and classical church music, Titanic Rising becomes an album that is as ethereal as it is beautifully overwhelming.
This is no better characterised by album opener ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’. A song of intricate delicacy focusing on the idealism and freedom of youth, Hering remembers “a time when I was just a girl / When I had the whole world / Gently wrapped around me”. Hering’s voice is utterly irresistible, gracefully invading the room with a cathartic calm, while the expertly textured backing is, in simple terms, divine.
Lead single ‘Andromeda’ holds a similarly addictive quality to its predecessor. A more tranquil affair, Hering adopts a deep Nico-esque tone while still maintaining a tender power throughout. It’s a song to nod your head along to, though you couldn’t really explain why. It seems too slow a song to warrant such a response, yet its soft insistence towards its sound and atmosphere is unstoppable once it grabs hold of you.
Titanic Rising is – without undermining its effectiveness – easy listening of a unique sort. Its gentle developments and emphatic soundscapes offer an escapist sanctuary for the listener. It’s music to sway to, to indulge with comfort yet without any sense of urgency for fear that it could disappear all too quickly.
The album’s headline act arrives in a triumphant wave of grace. Following the eerie peace of ‘Titanic Rising’ comes the other-worldly ‘Movies’. Kicked off by a bubbling synth, Hering’s religious influences take centre stage and become all-powerful. Her voice descends onto the track exquisitely, longing for the liveable simplicity of box office hits while despairingly stating “the meaning of life doesn’t seem to shine like that screen”.
Hering transforms the listening space to a sparse and echoing church of heavenly experience. Her singing reaches angelic levels of serenity, magnificently backed by an understated strings section and interstellar harmonies. The song is, in itself, a near-supernatural event. The transformation from a floating hymn into the closing of powerful percussion allows the encompassing of an even more impressive and awe-inspiring atmosphere. It dreamily drifts away into the distance, before an abrupt shut down brings the listener back into reality.
Penultimate track ‘Picture Me Better’ is a crushing song of post-break up loneliness and provides Hering’s final vocal contribution. Lyrically despondent, we find Hering “Waiting for the call from beyond / Waiting for something with meaning / To come through soon”. It’s an extremely sombre affair which uncomfortably offsets the solemn nature of the album somewhat, but no criticism of the song itself can be made. It is a gorgeous journey through a solitary mind desperately craving companionship.
As a whole, Titanic Rising is a cultured and assured effort. Hering brings to the table an expertly crafted merging of lifelong influences, resulting in an album of total majesty and splendour. It’s certainly a throwback in some respects, though it would be disingenuous to even begin to claim an over-reliance on sounds gone by.
Quite simply, it’s one of the best albums to have been released in the last decade and will most-probably stand the test of time in years to come.
- A Lot’s Gonna Change* (4:21)
- Andromeda** (4:40)
- Everyday* (5:07)
- Something to Believe (4:45)
- Titanic Rising (1:36)
- Movies** (5:53)
- Mirror Forever (5:05)
- Wild Time (6:09)
- Picture Me Better* (3:41)
- Nearer to Thee (1:05)