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Weaves - "Weaves" | Album Review

by Max Freedman (@anticlimaxwell)

Weaves’ video for “One More,” a standout romp from this heavily hyped Toronto outfit’s self-titled debut LP, may merely seem simple, fun, and quirky at first, but it’s actually a moment of impressively on-point branding. The frenzied, whimsical images in this video -- frontwoman Jasmyn Burke running down a vast, empty desert road in a neon pink jacket and reflective gold pom-poms; band members aimlessly and excitedly throwing sand and dirt in the air -- exemplify the very qualities that, over the last two years, have developed Weaves into a Buzz Band.

This Buzz Band title is both literal and figurative: Weaves is a key figure on small but beloved Toronto-based label Buzz Records, and their unpredictably spasmodic yet undeniably pop-friendly songs have gathered them an intense worldwide fanbase, one that’s especially staggering for a band with only a couple of EPs and a string of sporadically released singles to their name. They’ve picked up the kind of following that only ceaseless touring behind a thoroughly insane live show can impart, which makes sense; Weaves sounds so bloodthirsty and explosive that it’s a shocker to learn it wasn’t recorded live. But it comes close: its eleven songs often form incredibly quickly without undergoing intense editing, a testament to Weaves’ instantaneous, spastic, free-moving nature. It’s this same sonic spark that accounts for this debut album’s replayability and immediacy.

“I write a song in 20 minutes and then I’m done,” Burke explained to The Quietus in a recent interview. There’s a sense of spontaneity throughout Weaves that Burke’s words exemplify: nothing that sounds as simultaneously fun and gritty as the interplay between drums and guitar on “Sentence” could have been excessively labored-over in the studio. Other tracks such as “Human” crank the dial to 11 and guarantee that the Deerhoof comparisons following Weaves from day one remain accurate; “One More” crashes right out the gate with rapidly galloping drums and seething guitars whose exuberant, jarring euphoria would be difficult for even Ty Segall to emulate. It’s on these gallivanting sprints of sound that Weaves most resoundingly transform their lack of inhibition into gruff guitar rock.

Elsewhere, Weaves show an impressive amount of restraint for a band so prone to punk tantrums, resulting in soulful quasi-ballads such as “Eagle.” “Two Oceans,” which follows immediately after “Eagle,” neighs and guffaws its way into a bluesy, queasy skronk that proves a necessary bridge between its predecessor’s soft side and the screech of “Human.” Somewhere between these louder and quieter extremes lies the odd, tropical fruit of “Coo Coo,” which resembles what Speedy Ortiz might sound like with more sunshine in their angular garage jams.

“Coo Coo” also serves as Weaves’ most obvious reminder that this band’s lyrics aren’t overstuffed with impenetrable metaphors. Most of this song’s images describe objects in zany and almost childlike ways that help turn what might otherwise be ordinary love songs into refreshing anecdotes. Likewise, “Candy,” which will likely emerge over time as the album’s most memorable song, details running away with a lover as “I’m gonna get you/to the sugar-coated land/filled with candy.” It’s a description that fits right into the song’s kooky, purposeful decision to slightly misalign its two guitar parts in relation to the drumbeat. On “Birds & Bees,” the chorus’ only lyric, a snarl of “Don’t think of me as you!”, fits similarly well with claustrophobic, sneering guitars that combine with Burke’s vocal tics in a compellingly dizzying way. 

It’s not all that common for an album to be this exciting when just under half its songs will have already been released for public consumption by the time the LP is officially released. Weaves qualifies as exactly this: the same song that begins the album jumpstarted the band’s entire career, and “Shithole” followed relatively soon after; “One More,” “Candy,” and “Coo Coo” have already been released to tease the album. Even outside Weaves, these songs have remained fresh since their initial presentation to the world; in the context of the album, their familiar presence gives adequate space for new jams to shine. “Birds & Bees” between the established benchmarks of “Tick” and “Candy” pulls this track up from its gyrating surroundings; “Two Oceans” splitting the sea between “Shithole” and “Coo Coo” imparts a feeling of fresh air to this slowly grating tune. The comedown of “Stress” after the penultimate thrash of “One More” enhances the starry-eyed R&B terrain this dimly lit final track explores. It’s a fitting end to a party no one wants to leave.