It takes a careful hand to create an album whose songs all share the same mood. Often, the songs can blur together and become monotonous, leaving the listener bored after three or four tracks.
An album that does this effectively, though, can explore the intimate details of a particular musical feeling in a uniquely profound way. It’s a difficult task — one with high risks and high rewards.
Weyes Blood’s newest album, “And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow,” succeeds in this task handily, submerging the listener in her wide, warm sound for its entirety but shifting subtly through each song to keep the music engaging.
It begins with “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody,” which opens with piano chords and a light drum backbeat evocative of Fiona Apple or Regina Spektor. The song, like many on the album, is rhythmically sparse, with the piano and drums hitting consistently on the beat.
The song builds slowly, gradually layering in ethereal backing vocals, organ and strings and changing the drum beat slightly. Although it feels relatively similar throughout, the beginning and end of the song are actually quite different in terms of intensity.
The next song, “Children of the Empire,” steps up the harmonic and rhythmic complexity. Utilizing similar instrumentation, it builds more obviously than the opener, with multiple instruments entering simultaneously at points.
The drums are busier, with guitar chords and countermelodies filling out the initial texture and later adding bells, synths and Weyes Blood’s signature backing vocals. At the song’s finale, delayed violins take over the sound, slowing to a rubato finish with piano.
“God Turn Me Into a Flower” removes almost all sense of structure and thrusts the listener into an open, spacious texture. Blood’s light but precise backing vocals swell in and out along with quiet strings, creating a sound akin to softly breaking waves.
She lets the vibrancy of the arrangement do most of the work here, with limited lyrical and melodic content and most of the song’s duration being filled by the beautiful vocal harmonies. The main melody only appears in the first three minutes of the six-minute tune. Far from becoming boring, though, “God Turn Me Into a Flower” is a calm, ethereal and lulling listen.
“The Worst Is Done” makes the most significant departure from the feeling of the rest of the album, with a faster tempo and more energetic rhythms. It stays fairly muted, but busy drums and a strong bassline give it some groove that the rest of the album lacks.
This slight groove fits in nicely with Weyes Blood’s compositional style. Her sublime backing vocals take on a new sound in this context, providing ample support for the lead vocal, and sparse synth lines add sporadic elements to the instrumentation. This tune proves she can venture out of her comfort zone while retaining her distinctive sound.
The finale, “A Given Thing,” returns to the album’s main feel, beginning with slow piano and voice and gradually building throughout. It forgoes percussive elements, though, only adding vocals and organ to its sound. Although the meter remains consistent, the beat feels slippery and shifting, making the slow tempo and soft texture more effective.
“And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow” shows that Weyes Blood has found her niche and is filling it skillfully. It can be difficult to keep an album with such a consistent sound interesting, especially when most of the songs run longer than five minutes, but she proves her expertise in this timbre with a beautiful and enchanting work that might bring a listener to sleep if it weren’t so engaging.