mewithoutYou – Pale Horses


Artist

Album

Pale Horses

Label

Cooking Vinyl/Run For Cover

Year

2015

For Fans Of

Manchester Orchestra - La Dispute

Summary

Credit where credit is due.

Rating

91 / 100

For some unknown reason and despite them having been around awhile, mewithoutYou are a band that remains immensely underrated.  That’s a claim reinforced by their latest release ‘Pale Horses’, which exhibits their ability to craft detailed songs that are so intrusive they’ll mark (or at least leave behind a thought in) your memory, enclosed behind album artwork that looks like a page out of Where the Wild Things Are.

Pale Horses’ certainly indicates that when the Philly outfit had to choose the direction they’d take after their last album, they headed down the dark fork in the road. Opener ‘Pale Horse’ gradually constructs the glassy-eyed emotions the album encompasses, hard to describe but easy to empathise with when you’re listening to it. The production of the record is on point from its first few seconds, making this one a definite hit for scene staple Will Yip. His hand as the producer generally either turns something into gold or polarising genius (yes, we are referring to the most recent Title Fight record). This one strikes the former.

‘Watermelon Ascot’ introduces the razor-edged side of mewithoutYou. It’s not passive but pressing, with drums and guitars punching through to aptly accompany the intensity of its vocals. Speaking of vocals, they’re mostly clean on that track, with occasional cracks that tellingly let anger seep through. Yes, the title sounds nonsensical, but practicing abandonment after that first impression means you miss out on the song’s intricacy.  ‘Lilac Queen’ showcases guitars used to enhance the song, making it more than what it would be if they just took a back seat.

The intensity of this album is pursued on ‘Mexican War Streets’, which has vocals that will please La Dispute fans. Other standouts include ‘Dorothy’, a relatively short, affecting tune that has a soft and chilling bite. ‘Rainbow Signs’, the album’s closer, that also explains their rainbow-coloured LP variant, is the perfect way to end it. It’s heavy, in a way that runs deeper than screams and breakdowns.  

‘Pale Horses’ is somewhat a return to form for mewithoutYou, with nods to past release, ‘Brother, Sister’, littered throughout (in addition to the obvious ‘D-Minor’, a follow up to the ninth track from that album, ‘C-Minor’). Having said that, this whole album rekindles the sentimental spark traceable through their entire discography.

Conclusion

‘Pale Horses’ has a heartbeat. It’s rare for a record to be so emotional, so alive, not just in flashes of brilliance but in its entirety. This isn’t just an album of the week, month or year, but a career-defining release from the pursuant band that could.

Tracklisting

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

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