Slumberland has been fortunate enough to have always stayed true to their original sound aesthetic as a label while still offering up a diverse clientele for their audience. Enter San Franciscos’ Weekend, another group offering up a noisy debut, fueled by certain sonic and textural elements we’ve all come to recognize. Their album Sports does have certain touches of diversity when compared to the grand spectrum of things, yet those modifiers that make them relevant often seem to get in the way of the progress they offer as a group.
Listening to the first track, “Coma Summer,” you almost get the idea that this might just be a nice little pop number, as the song’s intro includes a nice pounding drum and jangling guitar. Still, the echo in the background has a haunting quality, and as the song pushes forward, that quality explodes into buzzsaw guitars that practically obliterate any chance of vocal comprehension. Underlying melody is all well and good folks, but if you don’t allow room for breathing, then what’s the point?
Clearly, the scope of the record does have some lyrical value, but it often seems to have evolved as an afterthought to the completed musical process for Weekend. “Youth Haunts” has this brooding bass work that really propels the song forward, but as guitars knife their way discordantly through the song, the vocals appear very distant, as if they were recorded separately, then spliced onto the tape in another session altogether. Similarly, “Landscape” has that certain appeal one would find in the early days of Manchester, yet part of you probably feels a driving need to connect with the vocals themselves. That’s probably one of the great difficulties with Sports; you either connect with the noise itself, or you’re spending your time chasing after the lyrical content. One of the things that made bands like Joy Division so successful was their ability to bring you that connection, offering up vocals that could be discerned, while still piling noise into the whole affair.
One might find themselves extremely frustrated with Weekend by the end of this whole affair, as there are clearly elements that seem successful in their own merit, such as the track “Age Class.” Once again, the rhythm section practically owns the song, giving you this animalistic power that only increases the tension as the song progresses. Normally, there would be some sort of release, some sort of resolution, but Sports just never offers that sort of cleansing moment. Perhaps that is where my listening habits have gone wrong; I’m not capable of connecting both the sounds of this record and the vocals in order to decipher the message, song by song, let alone the whole album. While plenty of elements suggest the conceptual ideas throughout the entire listen, for some reason, the band’s purpose just never seems to fully evolve, leaving listener’s, myself in particular, asking for more from the group. I suppose you can leave this all up to personal tastes, but despite lots of pleasurable listening moments, it just never seemed to complete its journey, leaving me interested, yet entirely unfulfilled.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/01-Coma-Summer-1.mp3]
Download: Weekend – Coma Summer [MP3]