The phrase “YOLO” may have gone from mainstream hip-hop into the English lexicon, then become ironic and eventually forgotten about due to overexposure, but rarely has the acronym been more appropriate or held more emotion or weight than when Natalie Mering sings it on the chorus of ‘Generation Why’, the centrepiece of the new Weyes Blood album Front Row Seat To Earth. When Mering gracefully sounds out each letter with bittersweet stateliness, it makes you realise the truth behind this tongue in cheek phrase; we only get one life – and that goes for the individual, the entire population and the Earth itself. Embedded within the psychedelic folk of the album is the thematic undercurrent of things coming to an end, usually love, but also in the bigger picture.

Of course, this being a folk album and Mering possessing one of the most swoon-worthy voices out there, the majority of the tracks relate to relationships – but they’re broken down and dying. The basis of these songs is broad and resonant pastoral folk, but the stormy electric organs and synthesizers in the mix add a grandiose quality that turns elegiac as Mering expounds in hopeless harmonies. ‘Do You Need My Love’ starts out as a feeble plea, with Mering asking the titular question, but as the song’s 6 minutes unfold she grows stronger as the instrumentation bolsters her spirit, and by the end she is much more domineering and accusing in the way she sings the chorus. ‘Be Free’ is as tender a goodbye to a former lover as you’re likely to hear, the precise production emphasises the bitterness Mering feels as she says “don’t worry about me / I got my thing.” In ‘Seven Words’ she’s not quite ready to call it quits, and the fluttering song seems to dance around memories and emotions tied with her beloved, encompassing pain, lust, happiness and hopelessness all in its glorious pedal-steel imbued sweep.

The album’s title itself, Front Row Seat To Earth, and its front cover are nods to climate change, rising sea-levels and the impending end of everything. ’Generation Why’ and ‘Can’t Go Home’ form an understatedly frightening double-header to kick off the second half of the album, and they are the tracks that most directly address this constant grey cloud hovering over modern day society. The two songs are also musically a little different to the rest, making more use of layered, pitch-shifted vocals and atmospheric production to hammer home lyrics like “carry me through the waves of change / I know my place, it’s a beautiful thing.” ‘Can’t Go Home’ is even more stark and shapeless, but through Mering’s rich voice we feel that there’s hope amidst the coldness.

The album concludes with ‘Front Row Seat’, a sound collage of an operatic performance, only for it to take a drastic turn and conclude with the sounds of people screaming and what sounds like flooding. It’s a harsh reminder of the main theme of this album; dark times are ahead and we should start doing something about it now, if we can. That’s not to say that this album is pessimistic; Mering wrings out so much emotion from her voice that these songs burst with human vitality – and that is the main thing to take away from here.