Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Weyes Blood – Movies

Certified fresh…


Ian Mathers: Sometimes you’ve been hearing about an artist for a while, maybe even years; never a friend recommending them to you directly, maybe, but enough free-floating praise that there’s a nagging feeling you should probably check them out (if one of those moments hits you at just the wrong turn and/or you’re naturally stubborn, this feeling might even be part of why you haven’t gotten around to it yet). And of course every year even if you listen to hundreds of new song and albums there are people you won’t get to, and some of them you never will and that’s fine, even if in some other time and place they might have changed your life just as profoundly and joyfully as some of the stuff you did happen to have time for has changed your life. Some you never will; and some, maybe, you’ll hear just one song, maybe through a group writing effort that you love and keep up with partly precisely because you think getting exposed to things you might not have wandered into yourself is valuable, and that sudden moment of discovery is one of the best feelings in the world to you, and you have to excuse yourself from the room (literally or figuratively) because you now have to run home and listen to everything else that artist has made because you need to see whether any of it hits you as intensely as this song does.

Thomas Inskeep: I fucking love this. I love the way it opens like something from a mid-1980s episode of Hearts of Space, I love the Kronos Quartet-esque string breakdown, I love Natalie Mering’s vocals, which sound to me like a sweeter Aimee Mann, and I love the way it eventually ascends into heaven like Cristal Connors at the end of “Goddess.” A highlight from Weyes Blood’s fourth album, Titanic Rising, this is damned near perfection.

Alfred Soto: I can’t deny the essential camp of “Movies” — an act that flirts with the tonal commitment of Weyes Blood courts ridicule when this unwavering vocal combines with the synthed-up arpeggio. Then the “real” strings frame Natalie Mering. Evoking Bryan Ferry in his deluxe and delightful condo of glass in “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” Mering catches the light from the klieg lights, astonished to be caught playing a part as all good actresses are. Lana Del Rey would know.

Hannah Jocelyn: This song is a lot funnier if you imagine Weyes Blood is just extremely hyped for a movie like Avengers: Endgame. Obviously, she’s not talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she’s talking about the classic definition (despite the weird line about a “box office hit”), though the song feels about as long as Infinity War. It’s hard to shake the feeling that if I wanted to listen to No Shape, I would listen to No Shape – there’s the same dense soundscape, but none of the tight songwriting that defined Mike Hadreas’s masterpiece. “Movies” just meanders, breaks into Owen Pallett territory, then meanders a bit more forcefully. Still, sub-No Shape is still above most other records, and “The meaning of life doesn’t seem to shine like that screen” is a killer line. It doesn’t need to be as life-affirming as No Shape; pretty things can just be pretty.

Tim de Reuse: “The meaning of life doesn’t seem to shine like that screen,” and yet there’s never a desire expressed to break away from a cinematic life; a subject so holy that the word “movies” itself belongs over a Plagal cadence, like it’s the end of a prayer. It’s poignant in that dreaming-of-the-impossible way, and so the tonal shift into a rousing, triumphant second half doesn’t click with me; after the absolutely killer line where we imagine “making love to a counterfeit,” a totally straightforward expression of desire is too uncomplicated to cap things off in a satisfying way. My conflicting feelings here aren’t helped by the presentation: lush, engaging harmonies that float in a sea of uninspired reverb. It grabs the attention, it shows off with confidence, it’s got a gorgeous outer shell — but its emotional hooks are awkward and imprecise.

Will Adams: I consider myself the hard opposite of a film buff — maybe three trips to the theater a year at most — so maybe that’s why “Movies” doesn’t resonate with me as much as I know it could. Art about art is always an admirable concept, though, and even a non-movie-lover could be won over by the artful arpeggios and Natalie Mering’s impassioned vocal.

Katherine St Asaph: A track of awe and melodrama and noir-palette kisses. The arrangement is sumptuous and yearning, the midpoint of the world-cracking-open Trio Bulgarka parts of “Deeper Understanding” and the moody pulse of a late-career Sandra song, with a frantic dream ballet post-chorus. The vocalist, however, evokes Lana Del Rey’s worst qualities: the starchy tone, the over-quavery vibrato, the meandering drawl. I guess this vocal tone signifies as dramatic to people these days, but to me it sounds like a low, bored yawn over a topic that deserves opera, or at least Sundfør. Like the most heartbreaking film viewed via the grainiest YouTube bootleg.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The two-thirds of “Movies” is transfixing and transfixed — over a synth figure that oscillates endlessly, Weyes Blood declares her love for the movies. Her lyrics, performed low and ambivalent, toe the line between the banal and the profound, often emerging as both at once. It’s an optical illusion of a song, one that feels different moment-to-moment even as it sounds the same. But in the last two minutes of “Movies,” as a violin loop and some glorious drums come in, the experience is entirely different, and even more compelling. It’s a transcendent climax, full of motion, that works only because of the stasis of the song’s first half.

William John: In high school, one of the many hats I wore was “enthusiastic, but very unaccomplished violinist.” I sat in the back row of the orchestra’s string section, never miming, exactly, but not playing loudly, out of fear from being noticed for being the one slightly out of tune or time. I’m not sure I’ve picked up a violin once since high school finished — the passion burned out fast — but one particular moment associated with it sticks out in my memory: in my final year, at the school’s largest annual concert, the symphony orchestra performed the first movement of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in E minor. I remember the enormous stage and its glossy floorboards, feeling hot in a shirt under white floodlights with clammy palms, the drama of placing the bow on the string. Most of all, I remember the soloist, and how she would saw at her instrument, her fingers frolicking madly across its neck through endless arpeggios and harmonics. During the piece’s longest solo, I sat, enthralled, as she hurtled gloriously towards a figurative precipice, before an acquiescence to the crevasse of the rest of the orchestra and the piece’s huge, loud finale. I remember the raucous reaction at the conclusion from the audience, who were as struck dumb by the beauty of the music as the spectacle itself. The relevance of this to Weyes Blood, and “Movies”? Not only does the startling interruption of the strings at the midpoint of “Movies” remind me very specifically of a motif in that Mendelssohn work, but the song celebrates the distinct pleasures of both watching something grand and melodramatic unfold in front of you, and of the majesty of self-actualisation. “Put me in a movie and everyone will know me”, sings Natalie Mering; “I wanna be in my own movie.” Some of us will find that metaphorical starring role commandeering a group of musicians as they together conjure an avalanche of sound. Others will wait patiently in the background of that occasion, spurred on by the hope that their personal moment of destiny will eventually arrive.

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3 Responses to “Weyes Blood – Movies”

  1. So when we gettin a sidebar?

  2. Your site editor has been a little busy but promises to do it Thursday.

  3. He’s been busy being a Scrabble badass and we are very proud of him!