Saturday, January 16, 2010

mewithoutYou- [A--> B] Life

    Doesn’t it suck being told what to think? What an ego that must take. One issue of particular sensitivity for such speech is religion [whodda thunk?!]: whether it’s the Devil Wears Prada telling me I ought to believe in god, or Cursive telling me I’m doing it right, the result is the same- preachy people sound like twits. I realize the irony of preaching about preaching; this blog is actually a ruse to find recruits for my new MetaChurch. Regardless, between both ends of the twit spectrum, there are a select few who can talk about the great beyond without judgment, and among the finest of this lot is the Philly-based post-hardcore group mewithoutYou.

    “Experimental” doesn’t really do these guys justice. More accurately, they’re about twenty different genres baked together (somehow) logically, with a ripped-from-the-heart confessional spoken word poetry glaze. Despite sounding a lot tastier, that’s not quite as easy to say. Opener “Bullet to Binary” has the sci-fi bleeps and a menacing guitar which act as a perfect set up to Aaron Weiss’ vocals, which have been reported to set microphones aflame from a distance of up to sixty feet. Each track flows into the next on A to B Life, and the followup “The Ghost” is the kick to the gut while you’re still down. Weiss channels a throatier Guy Picciotto with “You were a song that I couldn't sing/you were a story I couldn't tell/I've only ever loved myself/But I've loved myself so well” on “Nice and Blue”, where the world’s slowest pickslide sounds like splitting the spine of a brand new hardcover.

    While A to B is mostly aggressive, mewithoutYou have the good sense to quiet down here and there to make the hard parts sharper. “Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt” could pass for downbeat Pinback, until it expands into a massive alt-country crescendo. “Gentlemen” strikes back viciously after the instrumental “A” with the words “And through a garden overgrown/Oh, it's a long walk home/I said I'd not come back /Well I'm coming back-” and the pause before “And you'd better be alone” is guaranteed to send you shivering, next day delivery. This record pushes the bounds of post-hardcore by incorporating a lot of unlikely candidates (like the Slash-style solo on “Be Still Child” and the RX Bandits synths of “We Know Who Our Enemies Are”) which makes it a sometimes tough but remarkable listen.

[A--> B] Life

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