Album Review: Weed—“Running Back”

By Cole Firth

When my roommate told me about Vancouver’s Weed, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I already have a Weed Hounds, a Weedeater, and a Chief Keef in my iTunes and while I appreciate anxiolytic herbs as much as the next guy, it’s a little tiresome when musicians feel the need to advertise their shared interest so zealously. As their website is quick to point out, however, these dudes are hardly making the presumed reference to BC bud. According to the band, their name is “about the verb weed, like when you weed somebody out of your life”, which actually makes a lot of sense.

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Album art for Running Back

Although their guitar lines are sticky and heavy-lidded, the band’s new LP has a wistful, (dare I say it) emo colouring to it. The title itself suggests a pun on some romantic eternal return. This makes for an affective listen, giving the songs some melancholic punch while crafting their fists out of pristine noise rock. There is a discernible 90s influence to the way the instruments swoon and hang off each other, but to pigeonhole Weed as a throwback would not do justice to the humbly personal nature of their work.

Running Back plays like a sigh of lament. It sounds like lying in bed while it rains and doing some extremely productive mulling over. The band does an excellent job of channelling a sort of peaceful malaise, evoking not so much distress as somber contemplation. It’s reminiscent of the moments of childhood existential reflection where the full weight of your personhood and the world surrounding it hits you but you don’t entirely understand what that means.

This comes through more in the album’s musical space than in its explicit themes of angst. Its chord progressions are downtrodden; its leads are melodic and legato for the most part. The lyrics that can be made out reference summer nostalgia and feelings of yearning. Drawling vocals introduce themselves with the line “I don’t wanna feel this way anymore”, falling in and out of coherence from there, occupying an obscured position in the mix and pulling their emotional weight through melody rather than poetry. While the tempos tend to hop along at a brisk mid-range pace, the songs can shift gears on a whim and energy comes in bursts, aided by Lou Barlow-esque shrieks of abandon.

Weed hasn’t changed their approach in the slightest from their 2013 full-length, Deserve, though their songwriting has lost no momentum. They are still in firm control over their rickety musical inertia. The two releases form a continuous and consistent musical suite together. They could easily swap songs without changing the flow or overall feel of each entity and even the artwork has an overarching aesthetic to it. This obviously means that if you enjoy one you will enjoy the other and both carry a satisfying amount of content and detail despite their concise lengths. As someone who can get all too easily lost in their pleasant flurry of obscured sentiment and layered gusts of sound, I am delighted with Weed’s extension of their project on Running Back and look forward to future instalments. (Lefse)

Listen: “Yr Songs”

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