There is an episode of the Twilight Zone called Midnight Sun, where the earth has been knocked out of orbit and starts drifting towards the sun. Human society begins to deteriorate as the world starts to boil. The episode focuses on two women who are solely existing as their world melts. What is so disturbing about the episode is the inevitable calamity, that we have no power in the face of destruction. We are amid a similar catastrophe. While not hurtling towards the sun, our planet is getting hotter, and water levels are rising. The gravity of the situation is paralyzing, and you can't help but feel an inevitable end is fast approaching.
On her incredible new album, Natalie Mering stretches to the outer edges of our galaxy and depths of her psyche to find guidance during this time. She places herself in the center of the apocalyptic narrative, engaging the world's end with open arms. While the apocalypse is not a new concept for Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising is Mering's most direct, and best sounding album to date. It is as if the sea has already submerged the world, and Mering is the only one who can keep her (W)eyes open. Weyes Blood creates a parallel between our personal disasters and the world's cataclysms. Her album functions as a reminder that apocalypse means a change rather than destruction.
The end of the world is not a new subject for Weyes Blood. Front Row Seat To Earth was a dreamy exploration of our impending doom through woozy ballads about our contemporary situation. She captured a disillusioned generation losing touch with reality. It feels like Mering's ambition is to write songs that can be divorced from a specific time. As the title implies, Front Row has a passive quality, as if Weyes Blood is a spectator rather than an active participant in the world's destruction.
Titanic Rising feels far more direct than her previous work, and she successfully creates songs that feel timeless yet contemporary. Her music sounds referential to artists like Elton John and Harry Nilsson, but she adds her flair with updated production and added synths. This ambition for a timeless sound has been a problem for me as her songs have felt static and rooted in the past. But everything bounds forward on Titanic Rising. She captures timelessness not by creating a static moment but embracing the constant linear movement forward. It is a subtle, but radical change in understanding time.
Natalie doesn't give any definitive answers to the end of the world but demonstrates ways to cope and grow from the trauma. Titanic Rising is filled with images of Weyes Blood searching for guidance, like the unbelievable 'Something to Believe,' which may be one of the best songs of the decade. We hear Mering searching for external guidance to counter her anxieties. She partners this with triumphant melodic lines that emphasize the spiritual weight of her search. I find this to be the most relatable song Weyes Blood has ever written; her melodrama is matched by her impeccable instrumentation. It is beautiful, haunting, and essential.
Natalie takes her apocalypse to the next level by turning the focus inward. She finds escapism in 'Movies,' the sonic and emotional peak of the record. Ethereal synths dance around as Natalie is at her most reverent and grand. She discusses her love of movies, and her desire to be a star. Instead of being a passive viewer to the world, She reclaims herself as a subject, as an actor in the world. Instead of feeling paralyzed, Weyes Blood gains authority and the ability to act. It is a moment of pure beauty, a sensory overload of emotion.
The end of the album returns us to the melodic phrase of the first song. It may be repeated, but it feels like an entirely new experience. Everything has changed, and nothing has changed. Weyes Blood doesn't leave you with answers, but a partner to help search for meaning. She asks you to jump into the chaos rather than spectate from the sideline. Through this exploration, we can find ways of moving forward and survive whatever catastrophe comes. The world may boil, but we can find power in taking control of our narrative. By accepting time's inevitable movement forward, Natalie Mering perfected her style and created an album essential to our times.