Review: mewithoutYou – Ten Stories

Ten Stories is the fifth full-length album from Philadelphian band mewithoutYou. It is a concept album that leads the listener through a narrative about a group of circus animals who’ve fled the scene of their carrier train’s derailment. Many of the songs are told through the perspectives of the animals, who are intelligent and complicated characters, telling stories that touch on an array of topics including religion, death, unrequited love, and self-sacrifice. Lead singer Aaron Weiss does an excellent job portraying these emotions through manipulating his voice; from a hushed whisper to a frightened yell, he is the main reason that the album’s characters resonate on such a personal level. His songwriting is at its best when he’s belting out lines with raw fire, with no concern for sounding pretty. An example of this can be found in ‘The Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume’ where Weiss screams, “You know, I don’t know if I know, though some with certainty insist no certainty exists! Well I’m certain of this, in the past 14 years, there’s only one girl I’ve kissed!” The song carries an immediate emotional wallop even if it takes a couple additional listens to understand exactly what’s going on. The album does feature some softer songs, like ‘Aubergine’, that let the listener take a breath before the next inevitable build-up. This variety helps the album flow, and highlights how much the band has grown to master a more quiet sound, in addition to the energetic style that they have been best known for on past albums. Rarely is such an ambitious album so perfectly executed as it is with Ten Stories. The album succeeds in every aspect it sets out to, providing memorable choruses that get stuck in your head for days, and on a conceptual level, delivering ten complex narratives that leave the listener reading along with the album booklet to understand the stories of these unique and interesting characters. The album ends nicely with a simple poet song, which is the only track on the album free of a narrative. Entitled ‘All Circles’, the song presents what can be seen as a summation of the album’s message, that life is an inevitable cycle that has its ups and downs, but eventually ends with death – in which you become as you were before birth. It is a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to an album that knows exactly what it wants to accomplish, and undoubtedly succeeds.

Related Posts: