Minimal research can tell you everything you need to know about San Francisco's burgeoning indie-rock scene and its practitioners (The Fresh & Onlys, Girls). None of it really matters, though, when it comes to Weekend: while they might hail from the city by the bay, their sound has less to do with region and more to do with a certain time and attitude. Like their Slumberland Records label-mates The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Weekend, when they're at their best, manage to infuse a genre that doesn't often see much in the way of innovation -- in their case, noisy-as-hell shoegaze revivalism -- with uncommon vitality and energy. Laid-back guitar pop is still dominating the indie-rock blogs, and Weekend are about as far away from that sound as you can get while remaining on Slumberland: If they saw the dudes from Real Estate asleep on the beach, they'd probably pick-pocket them for kicks. Except these guys don't strike me as the beach-going type. ("Youth Haunts," with its atonally screeching guitar, sounds like it's coming from the middle of a dank steel mill.)
Opening tracks don't get much better than this album's "Coma Summer," six constantly crescendoing minutes of noise-rock bliss that immediately introduce us to all of Weekend's best qualities. There's their unabashed, ferocious energy, which on a track like "Coma Summer" could power the laptops of six dozen chillwave acts. There's frontman Shaun Durkan's ability to imbue a wordless moan or a prosaic phrase ("Tell me the truth...") with half a dozen shades of melancholy. There's the band's near-genius understanding of tension and release.
What they're less adept at is atmosphere in and of itself, which unfortunately comprises a sizable chunk of their debut album. Why a band so good at the cataclysmic noise-rock climax (the latter half of "Veil" is paralyzingly intense) felt compelled to fill their first album with interesting but ultimately shapeless and meandering experiments in noise ("Monday Morning," "Landscape," "Afterimage") is unclear. They're the artists, and we can't begrudge them for it, although we can space out or skip through a good chunk of an otherwise great album.
As a filler-less EP, this thing could've inspired that these-guys-are-gonna-be-huge feeling that, say, the Young Liars EP generated way back in 2003. Weekend definitely seem to have more in common with the big crossover indie acts of the '00s than with their more modest labelmates. They have the dedication to gloomy character of Interpol (seriously, the band never cracks a smile on this record), the kinetic, unhinged energy of The Walkmen, and, mostly important, half the name of Vampire Weekend -- which may not really matter, but let it be known that these brooding boys deserve the "vampire" qualifier way more.
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