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  • Writer's pictureLucas Del Rosario

Album Love Letter: Weyes Blood's And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

An album for real yearners.

On her 2019 album Titanic Rising, Natalie Mering, a.k.a. Weyes Blood, proclaimed this age “a wild time to be alive.” That was certainly true at the time, and there’s no way she could have known the sh*t show that was to follow. That album, which has quickly become one of my favorites, is already (rightfully) hailed as a masterpiece of the 2010s—a gorgeous saunter through a garden of bittersweet memories. But my first introduction to Weyes Blood’s music was in 2022 when she released her follow-up album, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow. I was immediately drawn to the cover art when I came across it on my Spotify homepage. The image is quite striking, emanating an air of both warmth and nauseating melancholy. The second installment in a supposed trilogy, And In The Darkness… is stylistically similar to Titanic Rising, but with a heightened sense of regality—like a prophecy being fulfilled (though not necessarily a pleasant one). It saddens me that it doesn’t get the same praise.

The first song, “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody,” laid on a soft piano bed, is an excellent introduction to Weyes Blood’s soundscapes, fitted with lush orchestral arrangements and background vocals reminiscent of a church choir. With a voice I can only describe as being like cough syrup (full, viscous, soothing), Mering ponders the severe isolation she feels, certainly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sitting at this party

Wondering if anyone knows me

Really sees who I am

Oh, it’s been so long since I’ve felt really known

Of course, she is not the only one. There was a time when it seemed like everyone was going through the same thing. Mering says the song is “a Buddhist anthem, ensconced in the interconnectivity of all beings.” It can be comforting to know that some experiences are truly universal. Still, it seems like such a cruel joke that so many people long for connection but can’t seem to find each other. In a time where we broadcast our lives more than ever, we are desperate to be understood. The music video for the song features Weyes Blood dancing with a murderous cartoon smartphone if you were still unsure how she feels about the prevalence of technology in our lives.

“Children of the Empire” is more of a jaunty tune, suggesting that we cannot inherit wealth without also inheriting the debt of blood. Gee, I wonder what “empire” she could be referring to. By contrast, “Grapevine” is a slower, folkier musing of a former love: “Ooh, when you were mine / And I was yours for a time.” We can only assume things did not end well, considering the music video for this song has Mering swaying with the silhouette of a looming, grotesque figure.

If a man can’t see his shadow

Oh, he can block your sun all day

He can make you small

He has the power to take his love away

A song I was not looking forward to writing about was “God Turn Me Into a Flower” because I just knew I wouldn’t have the vocabulary to capture the heavenliness of this song. In reflecting on the myth of Narcissus, Weyes Blood contemplates whether it is merely enough to exist without performing. The latter half of the song feels like an actual transformation. Wordless vocal harmonies and lively birdsong see Weyes Blood reborn, no longer bound by expectation and free to sway in the wind.

As long as I stand to face the crowd

To know my name, to know its sound

It’s good to be soft when they push you down

Oh, God, turn me into a flower

“Hearts Aglow,” while more of a straightforward love song, is a connecting thread of the album. She sings, “I’ve been waiting for my life to begin / For someone to light up my heart again.” What have we done to be cursed with desire? We understand the image of the heart aglow—the build-up of loving potential energy, gnawing at our insides, begging to be released. Similarly, in “Twin Flame,” with a delicate voice like a feather suspended in the air, Weyes Blood reflects on the pain of being touched deeply and subsequently being deprived of it. The song speaks to a desire to stare into someone’s eyes and catch a glimpse of ourselves. And in our reflection’s eyes, their reflection. And so on.

The "Worst is Done" is simultaneously the most danceable song on the album and the most pessimistic. Despite finding ourselves on the other side of disaster, we wonder if more will come. Weyes Blood certainly thinks so: “They say the worst is done / But I think the worst has yet to come.” “A Given Thing” ends the album with a quiet meditation about love's effortless and everlasting nature.

Oh, I wanna stop the war between the broken lovers

It’s not something you gotta earn from each other

It just comes naturally, it’s there for the taking

It’s a given thing

This album gets so much of the little things right. Interesting use of synths and electronic sounds. Vocal harmonies that tickle your brain. Palpable earnestness. If you can see her perform live, it is something like a religious experience. At the very least, listen to the album.



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