Author: Zoey Knox
The Titanic sank on April 12, 1912. On April 5, 2019, it rose again, and this time Weyes Blood is steering the ship. Weyes Blood hooked me with the song “Seven Words” from 2016’s Front Row Seat to Earth. It’s a slow burner, deliberate and beautiful. Naturally, I was looking forward to her latest release. Blood’s album Titanic Rising has been hailed by critics for its lyrical complexity, sweeping melodies, and soaring vocals. I am usually not one to argue with the experts, but none of these components can win me over enough to praise the album in the way reviewers praised it nearly everywhere else. Honestly, Titanic Rising is just… boring.
Titanic Rising is like the type of sad, long play your arty grandparents might try to take you to. You hoped to to enjoy yourself and impress your company with your ability to appreciate high art, but really you just want to sneak out at intermission to go home and watch 30 Rock. The album sits dark and heavy, with a nostalgic tone and deep melodies. If it was February, and dark and cold outside, I would be willing to sit in that heavy feeling and listen to Weyes Blood ruminate on modern reality. Right now, Titanic Rising feels out of place amidst a flurry of upbeat spring releases.
On Titanic Rising, Blood sounds weary at the state of the world, and she is as theatrical as she is indulgent. All but two songs breach the four minute mark. Unfortunately for me, the album’s lyrical meaning was lost in Blood’s resonant voice and prolonged vowels, so very few lines stuck with me. She weighs the listener down with dense — albeit beautiful — melodies until you feel like you’re wading through a heavy substance, moving in slow motion towards the end of the album. The feeling is compounded by similar song structures that cause each track on the album to blur into the next. Predictability in an album can be comforting, and surprise is what keeps a listener’s interest. I prefer to be surprised.
Clearly, Titanic Rising will not be making my album of the year list, but in the spirit of optimism I thought I’d share a couple of tracks I’ll listen to again. Don’t get too confused, by “ a couple” I mean, literally two. “Andromeda” encompasses the earnest tone of the album without becoming tedious like some of the later tracks. The song’s spacey atmosphere creates a universe all its own, a grand departure from the suffocating feeling that comes in later on the album. Here, I found it easy to pick out some of Blood’s lyrical gems, including my favorite, “Treat me right / I’m still a good man’s daughter.” Blood’s voice grows and sways in flawless harmony with the music, and the steady percussion keeps the song moving forward.
Immediately after, Blood gives us “Everyday”, the only song on the album that seems appropriate for a spring release. The song takes on a rolling, folksy tone that makes it sound out of sync with the rest of the album. Tempo changes keep you moving, and the little featured string section has my heart. A familiar background track layers instruments in a way that is predictable but not boring, and the chorus of voices that join Blood’s are wonderfully cliché. Basically, it is the only song on the album that is not a complete bummer, and for that I am thankful.
Titanic Rising certainly has its merits and will not be anyone’s album of the summer. For now, I’ll listen to something that doesn’t send me spiraling into worry about the state of the world today. Maybe next year, when the seasonal depression hits and it feels like negative God-only-knows degrees outside, I’ll be ready to give this album another chance. Talk to me in February. For now, maybe the Titanic should sit where it sank.