The Weird Weeds I Miss This

[Autobus; 2008]

Styles:  folk-pop
Others: Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof

The music of The Weird Weeds, a trio from Austin, TX, exudes the personality of the American South. Fetishism of empty spaces, tranquility and idleness, debasement of boundaries, and transformation is abundant on the group’s impressive third album, I Miss This. Equally important motifs of love gone astray and the appeal of death proliferate each narrative twist and melodic progression. I Miss This would easily fit into any definition of the modern Southern art canon between the plays of Tracy Letts, the stories of Flannery O’Connor, and the films of David Gordon Green. In fact, it is Green’s films, particularly All The Real Girls, which the album most clearly resembles, from the intense associations between silence and love and vociferousness and pain to an agonizing search for harmony after moral misconduct. The Weird Weeds’ latest effort is a truly engaging soundtrack to a classic southern tale.

The beginning of the album circularly focuses on the dissolution of a relationship, from sadness to anger and then back to sadness. Like Green’s All The Real Girls, love is positively associated with isolation. For it is in these moments of tranquility that the speaker can feel the love they lost. This disparately polar association creates an interesting sonic dichotomy of melancholy and joy.

It is on the title track where this dichotomy is best captured and distilled. Over a subdued guitar riff and soothing ambient sounds, the speaker whispers a mantra of pacification: “I know that you have gone […] all is well.” This immediate reaction of numbness soon gives way to anger, appeasement with autonomy. A bombardment of sounds -- hard guitar riffs, crashing symbols -- creates a fittingly jagged landscape for piercing hints of infidelity to be laid out on “Lies,” as the speaker angrily yells: “We have seen but we’ll never meet again/ We will live through this/ But we’ll walk alone.” Later, on the irritated, unsettling “A Goose,” the anger grows, as the speaker pleads with the other party: “I wish you’d fly away/ Just go away.” The cycle is then completed with “Sorry Rain.” Over a vacillating instrumental -- raindrop-like guitars and pounding drums -- the speaker reminisces: “Without moving, let's go outside/ Walking together we make each other smile,” before the track is literally bombarded with ominous rain.

The climax of the story arrives on the album’s most fully realized track, “Atlas.” The previous feelings of sadness (“Hearts are heavy, lights are low”), anger (“You knew how to trust”), and isolation (“It's quiet in the bedroom/ Even with my ear against the door”) all reemerge dramatically in the first section of this dialectic track. In the second section, there is a feeling of epiphany, as the instrumental bursts with stirring ambient noises. This feeling of epiphany continues on the following track “We’re Gonna Die,” another obvious highlight. The speaker seems to have finally moved on from their past relationship toward the future. Using odd, but clear logic, the speaker exclaims: “We’re gonna die, and I love you.” The speaker’s love will never die, but they must move on, because the finality of death will arrive.

The album ends with lots of empty sonic spaces, a return to the calm of Southern life, and then, literally, “Nothing.” But the album lingers. Although experimental and at-times demanding, nearly every track is catchy and filled with interesting textures. They are also linked with an overriding sense of conformity, particularly in the fascinating Southern narrative that I've emphasized in this review, which stays with the listener well past the final sparse notes.

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