Front Row Seat to Earth is Weyes Blood's second full-length album for Mexican Summer, following 2014's brilliant The Innocents. As with that album, here singer/songwriter Natalie Mering continues to refine her psychedelic folk-pop sound, placing less of an emphasis on experimentation and spotlighting her stunning voice and introspective, poetic lyrics. The album was co-produced by Mering and Chris Cohen, and like his solo albums on Captured Tracks, it nods toward vintage soft rock production, managing to sound highly detailed and sophisticated yet relaxed. This is Mering's most direct-sounding album by far -- the grandiose, billowing arrangements and echo-drenched tape manipulations present on previous Weyes Blood albums are largely absent here. It's still somewhat spacy and ethereal, but it sounds significantly less trippy. It's not stripped-down or minimalist, however; the songs slowly unfold and bloom with lush keyboards and horns, and they often flow past the five-minute mark. The songs all keep to a calm, unhurried pace, but stand-out "Do You Need My Love" has a slightly busier rhythm, driven into a hypnotic midsection by impressive drumming and Lennon-esque pianos. Mering's singing has never sounded lovelier or more pristine than it does here, and her yearning lyrics are at the forefront of these elegant compositions. The lyrics are generally about the uneasiness of change and facing one's fears -- "Away Above" contains the lyric "I'll bring your worst fears if you bring mine." Mering laments heartbreak and hesitantly looks toward the future -- on another of the album's highlights, "Generation Why," she sings "It's not the past that scares me/Now what a great future this is gonna be." The album concludes with "Front Row Seat," a brief collage of distant pianos, eerie strings, and operatic vocals which hearkens back to Mering's more abstract earlier work. ~ Paul Simpson
Pitchfork (Website) - "The songs overflow with tender harmonies worthy of a Roches record and ornate instrumentation that blends '70s AM radio, the psychier end of late '60s folk, and touches of Celtic and Renaissance music."
Clash (magazine) - "[O]ne of the year's most affecting and luscious releases....The album masterfully merges the wistful drama of the likes of Lana Del Rey with the ethereal touches of Coctueu Twins without quite drifting off to such overly heady heights."
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