Classic guitar/bass/drums rock music might be dead right now but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to kick the corpse a little – you might not being it back to life but maybe an army of angry zombies will wake up and try to kill Ed Sheeran or something. Step forward Canada’s Weaves to have a go at the revival, combining influences like Springsteen, REM, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Slits and maybe even Americana. Wide Open is an impressive album, exploring love and identity in a world gone mad.
The opening song #53 is a foot stamping clap along indie anthem, taking post punk stadium rock sounds and turning them on their head. The distinctive voice of Jasmyn Burke is what makes this album really kick. When the song explodes as she sings I don’t want to think about you again/ I don’t want to dream about you again/I know I’m going to cry about you again you can picture a crowd jumping along with reckless abandon.
Slicked starts with a strut, hair gelled back and steel toed boots on. You hear an 80s influence throughout, coming off like a goth Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Law and Panda takes the black and white bear as a metaphor for life where she’s just ‘avoiding extinction‘. This is the punkiest song here, with handclaps and Pixies style bass lines driving the song. Maybe this is just how it feels to be the last of your kind.
The guitars on Walkaway are fuzzily fantastic and while some listeners may not like the odd vocals but for me her tone and phrasing are what makes the whole album so enjoyable. She sings this one to herself, almost as a warning. Walk away girl if you know what’s good for you. It isn’t that easy sometimes though, as this song testifies. La La is a musing on her introspective personality, tracing back to childhood where she was cripplingly shy. There’s an unflinching honesty and appealing directness to the music which draws the listener in.
The first side features anthemic songs, not pop exactly but somewhere approaching commercial indie rock. The second half goes darker with the slow woozy title track, Wide Open. Inspired by travelling in Britain during Brexit, there’s an undercurrent of unease about society and her relationships. Scream starts with almost spoken word monolgue about how ‘we are living in a time when misery is just common circumstance’. The song asks us to ‘stand up on the table and scream your name’. An invite to action, to resistance, to making your voice heard. In the background throat singer Tanya Tagaq sounds like a banshee having a fit. This is the most challenging song on the album, with its odd sonic beats, but it’s also the most arresting, grabbing you by the throat in a feminist call to arms.
Gasoline deals with the state of the world too and how she’s ‘poor even though I am paid.‘ Like so many other songs on this album it builds from a quiet start and ends up in some other universe entirely. Grass adds a swirl of psychedelic sounds to the acoustic guitars, telling the story of how uncertainty and stress can overwhelm you. Puddle also has a soft beginning but this band can’t stay quiet for long, turning the song into a grunge jam – a suitably off kilter way to finish off this unpredictable cacophony of cool.
Weirdos of the world wake up to Wide Open because Weaves might just be your new favourite band.