Release Date: Jun 17, 2016
Record label: Kanine Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
On their self-titled, debut full-length, freshly signed Buzz Records Toronto foursome Weaves' sound could be described by any number of adjectives — frenetic, melodic, heavy, worldly — but try to put them in a box and you'll be at a loss.At their core, Weaves are a pop outfit, but they indulge in thrashing punk moments, relentless rock'n'roll and math rock, making for an all-encompassing, smorgasbord style that will appeal to many different ears. It's a little funky, a little freaky and a whole lot of fun. The topsy-turvy style and myriad styles might not seem to match at first, but somehow the clash of curious choices works incredibly well.
You get the sense, on this debut self-titled record from Toronto’s Weaves, that if they put their mind to it, the four-piece could write some bona fide indie rock hits – the kind that would turn them into international superstars. Yet you also get the impression that’s the last thing they want to do, and the last thing they’re interested in – every time there’s the glimmer of a singalong or poppy moment on this record, the band do their best to not just reign it in, but subvert and dismantle it. Take, for instance, the high-octane strains of opener Tick.
‘Wonky pop’ was a short-lived label coined in the mid-00s to describe pretty much anyone making pop music who didn’t appear on any of Simon Cowell’s TV shows (a nod to that perennially yucky word, ‘authenticity’, apparently). Oddly, it’s also the best term to give to Weaves’ self-titled debut, the Canadians’ sparse, angular noises being at once both joyously earworm-like, and perched precariously on the brink. It’s frontwoman Jasmyn Burke’s vocal that’s key to everything here, as line after line it falls away before bouncing back with ferocity, like a vocal Weeble.
Weaves take a half ton of risks on their self-titled debut LP, but savvy listeners will expect nothing less from this colourful Canadian quartet. They smashed a hole in the wall of Toronto's DIY scene in 2014 with an EP of sweet'n'sour pop-rock gems, and have spent the intervening months on a near-constant tour. Vocalist Jasmin Burke claims to compose ideas on her iPhone, and although this first record's been in the works for several years, not one second of Weaves feels overthought.
Picture, if you will, a band that lands somewhere between Pixies and Pavement. But then also sound something a bit like Tune Yards (fuck their ‘quirky’ stylisation) crossed with Talking Heads. And then imagine if that lot had a bastard child with Blur and the B-52s’ own bastard child. Then imagine they included a song that was faintly reminiscent of the Beach Boys monstrosity that was ‘Kokomo’.
Picture the classic rock band. It’s likely you’re thinking of a four-piece: bass, guitar, drums, vocals. Though they might at first glance look pretty standard, Weaves are not doing that kind of math. On their debut, the Toronto quartet shed the restraints of indie rock structure and form, letting something more emotional drive their sparse and artistic sound.
Any new rock band that’s being honest with themselves about their place in the current musical landscape probably comes to the same conclusion as Weaves guitarist Morgan Waters: “Sometimes it feels like bands aren’t necessary, like they’re not the ones pushing music forward. ” For many, it’s an excuse for retrenchment, whereas Weaves' self-titled debut is driven by a palpable ambition to make a guitar/bass/drum set up sound as fluid and inventive as anything else out there. And yet, for all of Weaves’ admirable attempts to poke and prod indie rock towards progress, the irony is that they still sound like a throwback.
Toronto’s Weaves have made a name for themselves as a high-octane, renewable resource of experimental punk. Their proper, self-titled debut will turn off some listeners due to its raggedness, but those willing to dive in will find plenty to sink their teeth into. Weaves starts off with perhaps its most accessible track, “Tick”, which could easily be an indie radio gem with its scratchy guitar and steady thump.
Weaves don’t feel like they need to explain their capricious behavior. The Toronto foursome write delightfully odd songs that spin in different directions, as if they’re consciously shunning any inevitable post-punk comparisons in an attempt to justify their ingenuity. And most of the times it works - Weaves truly want to sound like themselves, and they do constantly surprise with a wealth of stylistic touches that prove there’s an eclectic array of musicianship to be found beyond their gimcrack adornments.
Weaves do not play background music. Rather, the Toronto four-piece make colourfully chaotic, in-your-face, box-of-fun art pop that announces itself boldly, forcing you to take notice of its weirdness, originality, musicianship and fresh juxtaposition of influences and sounds. Which might be why it feels like it's taken forever for their first full-length to arrive.