A welcome retreat from tumultuous times…
'Front Row Seat To Earth'

In these dark days of our lord 2016 musicians have deemed it fit to ease our understandable anxieties with a booster crop of audio valium. Be it the beautiful latest offering from Radiohead, or Jenny Hval’s experimental musings on womanhood and vampires, there’s been a choice selection to help escape and ponder on life. Weyes Blood’s latest is thankfully no different, ‘Front Row Seat To Earth’ strongly standing as one of the year's most affecting and luscious releases.

Those not familiar with Natalie Mering’s atmospheric numbers may recognize her dulcet tones from Aerial Pinks Haunted Graffiti’s ‘Mature Themes’ and would be wise to increase their knowledge with these nine tracks of wonderfully tripped out baroque pop. The album masterfully merges the wistful drama of the likes of Lana Del Rey with the ethereal touches of Coctueu Twins without quite drifting off to such overly heady heights. These elements are keenly realized on latest single ‘Do You Need My Love’ where slight dashes of psychedelia help turn a grand love song turn into something for more arresting and endearing, its breakdown seemingly occurring in a spaced-out wind tunnel.

Elsewhere the brilliant ‘Generation Why’ marries the old and new seamlessly, the lyrics presenting a sobering and beautiful look to the future, for a better or worse. There’s some shared DNA with Justin Vernon’s isolated folktronica as much as there is with a hazy Carpenters melody, not something most tracks could attempt to boast. The manner in which the line ‘Carry me on the waves of change’ proves impossibly hopeful yet sad. Later ‘Seven Words’ sleepy bass line and light touch percussion create a real treat as Mering once more explores the themes of desire and complexities of love in an unrushed four and half minutes.

In an age where everything must be louder than a Michael Bay flick hearing true sonic range is a rare delight, every instrument and backing vocal helping build a gentler whole. You could easily suggest Natalie Mering’s voice and songs could come from another time, the thicker, fuller production definitely owing plenty to that classic bombastic 70s pop sound. We’d rather call it timeless. While the line “...when the dust has cleared, you’ll forgot I was here' may best summarize the album’s mantra, on the strength of these songs, we highly doubt it.

8/10

Words: Sam Walker-Smart

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