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Artist: Weekend

Album: Sports

Label: Slumberland

Review date: Nov. 10, 2010

Listening to Weekend’s debut LP is comparable to trying to decipher a fifth-generation xeroxed homework handout. You may struggle admirably to mold some meaning out of the blotted words staring back at you, inventing, then discarding possible interpretations of the garbled text that stands before you. After a few minutes you will probably determine that your time would be better spent inventing a new sandwich, or getting back into online Scrabble. You should probably call your parents.

None of which is to say that Sports is a bad album, because it isn’t. In the quarter century since Psychocandy first blew the skull off guitar rock, plenty of bands have left their Kilroy on the wall-of-feedback the Jesus and Mary Chain built. Psychocandy is a great album, but even the Jesus and Mary Chain had the foresight to recognize the unsustainable nature of the beast it had created. Following it up with an album like Darklands was an all-or-nothing proposition that, fortunately for them, paid off.

Here we arrive at the central conundrum posed by a band like Weekend. Darklands worked because it showed that, underneath the punishing crush of distortion and hiss, the Reid brothers could write some enormously moving and effective songs. The problem with a record like Sports, not to mention anything by contemporaries like A Place To Bury Strangers, is that it takes an unsustainable anomaly (Psychocandy) as gospel, using it as groundwork for an entire sound. On some level, it seems churlish to slight a young band for being attracted to the idea. It’s an effortlessly sexy and confrontational sound — two things that never stop being cool. But after 25 years of countless bands trying desperately to wring the last drop of threat from a distortion pedal, how confrontational is it, really? I don’t feel very threatened. And sure, mysterious is sexy in the beginning, but after you get back from Santorini and you’ve exhausted every position the Kamasutra has to offer, there had better be something there to hang onto.

Weekend has crafted an aesthetically sound model of how a rock ‘n roll band should work. It looks good, it knows how to talk to women, and some guys you know even think it’s pretty cool. But, friend, between you and me, I just can’t feel it — and try as I might, I certainly can’t remember a lick of it.

By Jon Treneff

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