Weyes Blood review – titanic journey reaches a mellow peak

The Haunt, Brighton
The crowd are left awestruck as Natalie Mering pares back the luscious Titanic Rising and strips down a Beach Boys classic

Peering from the stage, Natalie Mering singles out a member of the audience. “This guy has been to every one of my shows for the last seven years,” she announces. “It’s been a journey, right?”

It certainly has. From early dabblings in lo-fi noise and fractured, Syd Barrett-inspired freak folk, Mering has somehow wound up making Titanic Rising, a swooning update of early-70s west coast pop that feels suspiciously like one of the albums of the year. “It’s OK to write songs, right?” she adds.

It is if they’re as good as this. Everyday and Andromeda sound not unlike the Carpenters given a gently hallucinogenic makeover: you can still make out her experimental roots – and indeed the shadow of Pink Floyd’s doomed founder – in their labyrinthine melodic twists. Mering’s voice sounds fantastic – she’s a confident enough vocalist to essay a stripped-down cover of the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows and make it work – and her band do a remarkable job of paring back Titanic Rising’s luscious arrangements without losing the songs’ sumptuous USP.

If you were desperate to find a criticism, you might alight on the fact that virtually everything she plays proceeds at a similar, stately pace. “I thought you guys were gonna be raging, seeing as it’s a bank holiday,” says Mering, although the question of how anyone is supposed to rage to music as measured as Wild Time or the largely beatless synthesiser arpeggios of Movies is an intriguing one.

She concedes that the atmosphere is “mellow”, and announces she’s going to play something to match. It’s an impossibly beautiful acoustic version of Picture Me Better, a song that feels as if it predates rock’n’roll. It causes a kind of awestruck hush to settle on the crowd: Mering’s journey seems to have reached a peak.

• At Exchange, Bristol, on 23 April. Touring the UK until 25 April.


Alexis Petridis

The GuardianTramp

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