mewithoutYou - Nice and Blue (Part Two)
I wasn’t expecting to like this. I was completely unfamiliar, I must admit, with mewithoutYou’s oeuvre, prior to their promo dropping through my letterbox. I saw a truly awful band name, an almost equally terrible single title, and PR blurb that promised an exploration of ‘philosophical, spiritual and interpersonal relationships.’ Mercifully, however, I was spared the embarrassing, pretentious dross that I had expected. Which isn’t to say this is perfect. Contrary to what the PR people would have us believe, mewithoutYou certainly do not ‘make music like no one else.’ Indeed, on first listen my instant reaction to ‘Nice and Blue (Part Two)’ was ‘Sonic Youth meets Bloc Party.’ Whilst I’ve subsequently tried to develop that description to give a fuller appraisal of the sound here, (there is a section where the band seems to drift perilously close to Nu-Metal sonic territory) I have yet to better my first thoughts. To me, this still sounds like an angry coalescence of ‘Positive Tension’ from ‘Silent Alarm’ and ‘Kissability’ or ‘The Sprawl’ from ‘Daydream Nation.’ Which isn’t a bad combination, of course. It’s not devastatingly original, but ‘Nice and Blue (Part Two)’ still manages to be a little more than the sum of its antecedents. It’s not better than Sonic Youth, certainly, but neither is it so similar that it needs to be.
So, musically, I like it. Lyrically, I’m not so sure. The lead vocal isn’t clear throughout, and, when it is, I hear some kind of extended metaphor about bears with their hands in the hive, and a ‘life best left half behind.’ Maybe that’s the ‘philosophical, spiritual and interpersonal’ exploration. Sounds more like poetry scribbled on the back of an ‘interesting’ fifteen-year-old’s school notebook than profound depth and beauty, to me. Again, however, though I might have hoped for more from a band on their third album, I’ve heard much worse. Indeed, prior to listening to this, I’d been binging on early seventies Beach Boys. Greater crimes are committed on both ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Surf’s Up’ – both fine albums – than one witnesses on ‘Nice and Blue.’ Certainly, I’m prepared to give this single’s shortcomings the benefit of the doubt and await the long player that will follow with cautious optimism.