Albums, Music, The Revue — October 11, 2017 at 5:40 am

Weaves – ‘Wide Open’ (album review)

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The artwork for Weaves‘ sophomore album is rather inconspicuous, but the Toronto-based band could easily have used the image of a middle finger. Or two, three, or four middle fingers because Wide Open is essentially a big “fuck off” record. This isn’t, however, a Taylor Swift-like LP. On the contrary, Jasmyn Burke, Morgan Waters, Spencer Cole, and Zach Bines focus their attention on anyone and everyone. Naysayers and detractors, power-hungry individuals, major corporations, and the self-centered are all game.

While Wide Open is tighter and more polished than their frenetic, self-titled debut, Burke’s lyrical fury is where the album truly shines. The opener, “#53”, immediately introduces the re-invented Weaves. With its pop-infused overtures, “#53” is a seismic, adrenaline-inducing anthem that will have you feel like you can take on anything in this world. Burke’s lyrics, too, offer the rallying cry:

“I’ve got a penny it’s nearly worth nothing,
It’s just a moment, it’s monetary.
I am a woman who feels the plague of these walls.
So don’t tell me what you want to hear,
I don’t want to hear it.”

The fantastic, slow-building rocker, “Scream”, which features Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, is one more forward in its malice. Between Burke’s jazzy vocals and Tagaq’s varied effects, the duo are essentially a two-person revolution, who are standing up against the commercialism and sexism in today’s society.

“And I’m sick to my stomach almost every day
I’m singing to the choir because my body can procreate
We are obsessed with prosperity, yet we don’t have no homes
I’m a child of commercials and body language and floating drones.”

A more gentle and classic indie-rock approach permeates on “Gasoline”, as the percussion, bass, and guitar wistfully tremble in the background. It slowly escalates into a dazzling rocker with Burke encouraging us to take control of our lives. “Get up there and let’s go”, she whispers to us. No journey, however, should be taken alone, which is revealed on the classic folk-rocker “Grass”. The song is a rare instance where Burke reveals her emotions and fears, as she tenderly calls out, “Please don’t go”, to someone dear.

Then there are moments where Burke becomes someone completely different. In the case of “Law and Panda”, she takes the form of the Chinese bear and other endangered animals and encounters the humans who wish to destroy her environment. As her band mates whirl a chaotic but groovy rock number, Burke tauntingly sings, “I’m a panda bear, and I’m avoiding extinction”. This is probably something Po the Panda Bear would say, making the song a fine for the next Kung Fu Panda yet relevant to today’s materialistic, money-conscientious world.

A funky groove and a whole lot of attitude seeps from the playful, fuzz-pop number “Slicked”. It feels like a relationship song at first, but it transforms into one about envy, desire, and how one’s worth is perceived by others and oneself. Burke’s lyrics are clever, insightful, and at times biting, making us reconsider what is exactly desirable. Do we tighten our belts to look appealing to others or do we celebrate who we are?

There is also always the option to just escape the world’s chaos and all its fuckery, which the band reveals on the infectious “Walkaway”. Akin to Big Thief’s cathartic indie rock, Weaves spin arguably the album’s most enticing number with a similarly warm message.

“Walkaway, walkaway girl,
If you know what’s good to do.
Walkaway, walkaway girl,
If you know what’s good
for you.”

Yet on “La La”, the band channels Heartless Bastards to deliver another anthemic and addictive track that will get you up and rocking. On this song, Burke recounts the stories of those who were alienated and isolated from the popular folks yet someone saw something special in them. This is a song for the underdog and everyone who could not speak and defend themselves. For those who won the science fair and were ridiculed for being smart. But in the end, they are the ones who get ahead.

And that’s the best way to say “fuck off” and to overcome all doubters and the surrealism that exists today – to live the way you want and succeed against the odds. And this is what Weaves have been doing for the better part of this decade and continue to do with a tremendous second album. If anyone wants to continue to doubt them, they can, well, you know.

Wide Open is out now via Buzz Records, Kanine Records, and Memphis Industries. Streaming and purchasing links are available here.

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