For their sixth studio album, the Philadelphia-based mewithoutYou continues to write music with calmer undertones in Pale Horses. You won’t find the constant pulsating riffs and screechy, hardcore vocals that dominated mewithoutYou’s early albums. However, Pale Horses isn’t just dreamy vocals and coffee-shop beats. Several songs rock a hardcore influence — most notably “Mexican War Streets,” “Red Cow,” “Rainbow Signs” and “Lilac Queens” — widening the breadth of the band’s sundry release.
It could be argued that this is mewithoutYou’s most diverse album to date, with post-rock influences blending their classic heavy material, spoken word vocals and softer material together. “Watermelon Ascot” reminds listeners of the religious subtleties mewithoutYou often incorporates in their songs, featuring a psychedelic rendition of the Christian hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” in the outro. But just one song later, in “D-Minor,” lead singer Aaron Weiss mournfully sings how “this is not the first time God has died” — a stark contrast in tone that should come as no surprise to mewithoutYou fans who are used to Weiss’ diverse and perpetually honest lyricism.
Pale Horses is a thoroughly enjoyable album that needs to be heard multiple times to fully appreciate its depth. It has singing, spoken word and screaming, and, lyrically, you could listen to it for hours and still debate what exactly Weiss is intimating. It will keep you guessing from start to finish, and that’s definitely a good thing.