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Posted on June 19th, 2015 (10:00 am) by Nick Manai

Pale Horses is mewithoutyou’s sixth LP over a career that has lasted more than 15 years. Originally conceived as a side-project, mewithoutyou are surprising purveyors of longevity. Their sixth LP is also their first for Run For Cover Records, standing out for its seat at an interesting cross-roads in this history. There are signals of fresh beginnings, but also suitable baggage, evidence of a long road already traveled.

What is new on Pale Horses is an expansion of tone: the drums and bass specifically pound with a noticeable practice that is meant to affect through depth and vision rather than sheer energy. But theatrics has never been absent from mewithoutyou’s music; even their name implies a pseudo-emo heart beneath their punk/noise aesthetics. Aside from the opening title track, which waxes and wanes with an inherently aberrant-art core, the rest of Pale Horses follows the lead of past mewithoutyou records with narrative storytelling, unhinged from formal constraints, and heavy, yet rhythmic chords and hooks.

As the cover art might suggest, some of the lyrics delve into the gothic and supernatural. There are explicit references to apparitions and other forms of the incorporeal, but they are balanced against visions of high-end shoppers and heated confrontations. The recent swing of lead-singer Aaron Weiss’ lyrics to be more overtly emotional is not compromised here, and he rarely lets a song go by without gasping out a few desperate pleas. Contrasted with his otherwise gravely-whisper, mewithoutyou punctuate most of their songs with an emphatic exclamation mark, hoping that the crescendo of feeling will carry the most important parts through.

But feeling only goes so far, so often, and if you aren’t seeing them live it gets harder and harder to meet them at the top. Weiss’s low-drawl vocals are so distinctly reminiscent of Interpol’s Paul Banks and Editor’s Tom Smith that the disparities can also be evinced quickly. While the two latter bands are quite adept at spinning low-guttural sounds into a shimmering light, capturing a feeling and holding it with sorrowfully picturesque beauty, mewithoutyou seems content to stay at one register and raise the speed up or down to keep you looking. It is not the least enthralling mixture of the year, but it does leave the dark colors they sketch less imposing, giving little intimation of the light.

Track List:

  1. Pale Horse
  2. Watermelon Ascot
  3. D-Minor
  4. Mexican War Streets
  5. Red Cow
  6. Dorothy
  7. Blue Hen
  8. Lilac Queen
  9. Magic Lantern Days
  10. Birnam Wood
  11. Rainbow Signs
mewithoutyou: Pale Horses
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

61 / 100
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