Track Review: Weed – “Heal”
On the heels of Vancouver sludge-revival luminaries Weed’s crowning achievement, the near-perfect, bewilderingly novel noise-pop of their fantastic Gun Control EP comes the full-steam-ahead Deserve, a chunk of top-notch emogaze that makes posers out of all bands whose members just discovered Loveless. The only issue with such rock elitism is that there are only a few touchstone records that any lo-fi rock band with a unique aesthetic can readily be compared to without extrapolating, and even then, the closest big-name comparisons to Weed and their contemporaries fail to be fully apt. The only ones that really fit their style are their own contemporaries and friends, such as the equally fantastic groups Title Fight, Hausu and Cascadia, or groups from the late 70′s post-punk or 90′s indie-rock scenes that are all but forgotten, such as stellar post-hardcore group (and a huge influence on Modest Mouse) Lync. This is not merely esotericism for the sake of obscurity, but rather well-warranted comparisons to great, niche artists who are blurring the lines between post-punk, post-hardcore, shoegaze and emo; whereas in the past the genre divide between such pseudo-punk subgenres seemed pretty black-and-white, the new vanguard of “sludge-pop” that Weed have championed for the last few years seems to have finally coalesced into a unique, uncompromising aesthetic. Maybe “sludge-pop” is just quicker-tempo No Wave with semi-melodic vocals, in the same way that premier indie rock bands such as Titus Andronicus, Modest Mouse and The Dismemberment Plan funneled relatively challenging, complicated ideas into very pop-centric song formats. I
In any case, however, Weed once again offer their forever-evolving (if only slightly so) sound at its finest with the opener off of their quality new LP, Deserve, “Heal.” Like most tracks by Weed or similar shoegazing acts, the lyrics are obfuscated by a wall of dense, rippling textures of sound, but like the lyrics, the old-school emo pain held within them is just beneath the surface. Just like My Bloody Valentine and the like, Weed’s simplistic laments of lovelorn loneliness prod audiences to extrapolate profound meaning from them, even if all they are is purely genuine cries. With droning verse lines like “Hurts, to be alone/Hurts, to be in love with you,” though, Weed evoke echoes of MBV’s “Sometimes” and Yuck’s “Rubber,” in that they make anthems out of simple phrases such as “Start to heal!” While “Heal” may seem lackluster outside of the volatile feedback leaking throughout the song, the multiple shifts in chord progressions and the emphatically uneasy chord changes in the chorus exhibit Weed as masters of controlling dissonance and unease. While audiences may not be at rest with some of the more challenging ideas contained in “Heal,” Weed’s true skill is making potent, singalong pop out of static tones and prolonged shrieks in a way last perfected by Nirvana two decades ago with In Utero. While it may be cliche to name-drop Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. or any other such alt-gone-mainstream legends in a time full of cheap grunge revival acts, but few acts have spat in the face of major-label demands so successfully by bringing inaccessible ideas into radio rock; by making anthems out of fuzz and chaos, Weed do the opposite to the same effect, and it would be no shock if Deserve turns out to be as big of a record as its sound would suggest.