Without seeing it coming, bam!, a slap in the face from Slumberland. If in 2009 the Oakland label hit the jackpot with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, this time it’s Weekend. Their debut, “Sports”, is very dark and noisy, something like locking yourself in a cave where the decibels make your ears bleed. Stylistically, “Sports” works on different levels that come together more and more noise rock, shoegaze and post-punk. It’s an inaccessible record, without exit, on edge, on which the three styles seal a non-aggression pact that is broken soon enough: they end up clashing like there’s no tomorrow. Because Weekend know that, in order to win everybody over, they have to take things to the extreme, and that revising the legacies of My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Joy Division and The Jesus And Mary Chain means doing so accepting all of the consequences. If it turns out right, they win for life. If not, they’ll end up in the trashcan. I say this because, have you noticed how badly The Horrors’ “Primary Colours” has aged? “Sports”, which is reminiscent of that record, will do the opposite. On both albums the concept, the tools and even the lack of light are the same; the delivery isn’t. There’s something less empathic about Weekend than about The Horrors, albeit it much more radical. While we always feared the blood of “Primary Colours” would turn out to be artificial, it becomes clear immediately that “Sports” is made of different material, more resistant to physics. Listen to the tireless “Age Class”: its ins and outs are more dangerous than a Swiss army knife.
More intelligent than The Horrors and more crushing in their song-writing than A Place To Bury Strangers, the San Francisco band have delivered and album made with cement that can resist any earthquake. One of those titles with which a group can self-destruct: they could die peacefully tomorrow. The tremendous thing about the affair is that this is their debut, made only a year after their formation and the sobriety and self-assuredness of it is surprising. While it still remains to be seen how they will hold up on stage, Weekend have presented themselves in a very convincing way. Right from the start – “Coma Summer”, almost seven minutes with a gun to the temple– and tense all the way to the end, “Sports” is all about distortion, fuzz, feedback and white noise. At first you only notice the deafening volume of the guitars, hurting like the worst eighties vein ( “Monogah VW”). But when you lower the VU meter –the best way to check how this kind of records with impressive sound works in the short run– you see that the songs respond equally well. And they do so, because they were conceived as something that is more than the sum of its parts, and because the structure around which the whole album is built gives it an overwhelming force. On “Sports” the voice is blurred until it’s lost in the distance, the volatile choruses are just obvious enough to attack the subconscious before disappearing again, and the instrumental parts are carried out with a tremendously powerful spirit.
Absolutely everything works to the millimetre in the complex undertaking of piecing together textures, atmosphere and melody. Maybe all that lies in the fact that Weekend have made their influences their own rather than imitating them. For example, “End Times” is their very own “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, but digested, regurgitated and coughed up in a different form. That’s why “Sports” is one of the most interesting, brutal and beautiful guitar records of this year. Its expansive wave based on a whirlpool of noise will appeal to those who have not had enough with recent attacks like those by Titus Andronicus, Grinderman, No Age or Sleigh Bells. Do you need more virulence without compromise? Look no further.