Decades of Noise on One Stellar Album

11/10/2010 4:10 AM |

Weekend
Sports

(Slumberland)

The cover of Sports depicts two white squares, each with one of their corners blown out and sputtering across a grainy black backdrop. This image of two masses shoving their weight against each other, exploding, speaks to the tension of the music contained within: an old-fashioned battle of melody versus noise. Not to ruin the surprise, but with Weekend, noise tends to win. The downside to the constant drone and relentless feedback is that they occasionally feel like quicksand. There are times when Sports would benefit from a release, saving some moments from becoming so deafeningly blown out that they’re undistinguishable from one another.

When Weekend does allow song structures to shine through, they’re filled with surprising hairpin turns. Formed in the fertile San Francisco scene late last year, the trio culls its sound from the most revered institutions, taking major cues from Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. Though songs are loud and looming, they’re constructed with precision. No-Wave guitars and post-punk rhythms dodge around walls of sound. Reverb is everywhere. Shaun Durkan’s vocals, though so buried you can  make out maybe one word the entire first half (“summer” in “Coma Summer”), channel the hollowed emptiness of Ian Curtis’. When his bandmates go punk at the end of  “Veil,” it’s with No Age’s amped energy and galloping drums; when the melody becomes danceable on “End Times,” Crystal Stilts come to mind. For as much of a trend pileup as it appears on paper, no one’s done noise-pop quite like this in recent memory. For a genre that has birthed so many strains over the last 40 years, it’s surprising it took this long for a band to tie them all together.