Friday, July 26, 2013

Album Review: Weekend-Jinx

I’m listening to Weekend’s debut album Sports right now. I had to grab my copy because as ashamed as I am to admit it, it has been a while since I listened to it and couldn’t properly recall most of the songs (except for “Coma Summer”, which will become an indie noise rock staple in five years, mark my words). While it was spinning, I am clearly reminded of what was buried in the back of my mind; namely how much Weekend used noise to shape their sound. Throughout Sports, there is this static (both literal and figurative) layer of noise over the songs, used to bring emotional weight and intensity, raising and falling accordingly. I think that was so captivating about Sports when it first came out; it had been a long time since a band had been able to really be so unique with embedding noise into their music.

I bring all this up because after three years between albums (and one EP to help with the transition), it’s sort of unbelievable how much Weekend have scraped that noise aspect from their sound on Jinx. Not entirely, but enough that it really can’t be a defining factor for the band anymore. More so though, is what that removal has revealed underneath. Under those layers of fuzz were/are some absolutely astonishing gothic post-punk songs. And just like how Weekend was creative when they were utilizing noise, so too are they creative with their new sound.

I mean the opening should be the biggest tip off. The drone that breaks the silence as opener “Mirror” starts, the panned bursts of static, the steady thump of the drum all make it seem as if it’s going to another explosive opener like “Coma Summer” did. Instead an almost jangle guitar line cuts through, and Weekend keep pulling back throughout the song. It’s instantly clear Weekend are trying to evoke something much more now; a deeper sense of the emotions and pathos that were secretly always at the core of Weekend’s songs. Just listen to the chorus, nothing but the repetition of “I feel sick in my heart” over and over again. If the melancholy couldn’t be detected through the music, they sure as hell can be felt in Shaun Durkan’s lyrics. However, “Mirror” is just the intro to the actual rest of Jinx, a testament to Weekend continuing to push at how their band should sound. The glorious “July”, so warm in its guitar wash it feels like Ride if Robert Smith had secretly joined the band. Then contrast that to the next song “Oubliette” which has a much more post-punk snarl to it, almost feeling like a lost song by their friends and former peers Wax Idols, before the chorus comes in with its lovely solo call-and-response echo to it. What might be the best track on the album, “It’s Alright”, perfectly melds this industrial, almost drum machine stomp to a blur of My Bloody Valentine guitars that’s just three and half minutes of hazy guitar rock heaven.

Then all of that is contrasted by the atmospheric songs that the band included that not only serve as a counterbalance, but also help enhance the entire mood and core of the album. Album centerpiece “Sirens” is a blur of warped vocal effects that creates a fog that forces the song’s components to slowly rise out of the muck. It builds more and more, than just as quickly fades out again, and while it seemingly passes by in the blink of an eye, its presence is a giant puncture of attention, as the song sits heavy and informs the rest of the album. “Rosaries” follows a similar path, the band concentrating on the song’s cold, atmospheric core to channel something truly haunting, and equally devastating considering how few lyrics are used. It’s all buried underneath the haze of the song, but instead of hiding anything, it amplifies the emotions you know are buried underneath.

Jinx ends with “Just Drive”, the closest they get back to their old sound, a six minute sprawl (at least here) that jumps between post-punk bursts and noisy goth rock, with the band practically fighting to pick which style to channel. And along those minutes, almost every aspect of Jinx is in some way put into display, the way Weekend have evolved pushed into one song. And it’s completely memorizing, just like the rest of Jinx. What Weekend have managed to do here is what every band wants to do with their second album; step out of the shadows of their previous sound (as great as it was), and create something even better. Jinx defies most set in stone genre tags; a synthesis of goth, indie rock, post-punk, noise rock. Jinx is dark, noisy, turbulent, saddening, and utterly, utterly excellent.


Weekend's Website
Buy Jinx here, from Slumberland Records

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