Slumberland Records has kept a consistent aesthetic with each release. Thick, dreamy, sonic textures with a punk-rock core kept fans coming back for more – from the label, not just a specific artist. With Sports, the debut release from San Francisco’s Weekend, the signature sound is there.
Weekend’s noisy art-punk shtick mixed with ambient, dreamy melodies creates some of the most gorgeous, fully realized sounds that have been heard from a debut LP in recent memory. Detractors will be quick to pigeonhole them with other noise-rockers – such as No Age – but once the quick generalisations pass, Sports reveals itself as impressively expansive when compared with anything No Age has done.
Sports remains in total cohesion from the sorrow-tinged Coma Summer to the untitled closer. The aforementioned six-minute opening track chugs away with a crooning melody that evokes a sense of regret and longing. This longing might perhaps be for something to stay the same, for something to change, for anything at all. That’s the point: the precise meaning isn’t important. The indecipherable lyrics are desperate and heartfelt, adding emotional impact as part of the highs and lows of a wall of sound rather than insisting that the listener parse out meaning from an overdeveloped metaphor.
A large portion of Sports isn’t filled with intense hooks or jumping immediacy. However, bubbling tracks like End Times make the album as a whole more accessible – in a good way. The song starts on a tense note, a two-string guitar riff bouncing up and down, before leading right into an infectious bass line that will raise the eyebrows among the purest of indie-pop purists. The energy from the bass extends to the washed out vocals. Lead vocalist and bassist, Shaun Durkan, creates moments of pure serenity through his spaced out and reverb-intensive melodies. Youth Haunts, the second track on the ten-song LP, also picks things up with its racing beat and a hook that’s belted out in a no holds barred fashion.
The sequencing of the album is well paced, backed with a formula of interchanging between faster paced noise-punk riffs and slow-building guitar sludge tracks. The drumming usually ranges from full-fledged punk to more tribal, supportive beats like that of standout track, Veil. Being quite possibly the best track on the album, the song creates a clear world of its own, building upon every floor-tom hit until a joyfully unexpected climax finishes it off.
Weekend has created a loud, messy, identity that can be associated with most of their labelmates (and beyond). However, there’s a unique heartbreaking quality to each misheard turn of phrase. It’s as if the lyrics are the most important piece to their sound, yet they’re splattered and skewed like a Pollock painting. Not all the singing is charged in this light but the moments of unabashed, emotional melodies are akin to that of the endearing two-piece garage rockers, Japandroids – and in a world of indifference, it’s a refreshing change.