Review Summary: If you want a revolution, well that's alright with me.
I don’t really know much about Weatherbox. I learned of the band when I fell in love with ‘The Clearing’ off their debut album, ‘American Art’. Despite becoming somewhat obsessed with this one song (to the point where I designed a photoshop piece in inspiration of it, featuring a T-Rex, for reasons that still escape me) I never really gave the rest of the album a chance. If it’s anywhere near as good as ‘Flies In All Directions’, the bands third album, then that was a massive mistake.
Ironically the same thing almost occurred with this newest album; the fourth track on the LP, ‘Bathin’ In The Fuss’, is fantastic. It’s been played over and over again on my iPod and has swiftly become one of my favourite songs of 2014. It’s an optimistic track musically with bright and springy notes floating in over the top of monotonous drum work that brings to mind memories of revolution and marching rallies; something reflected in the lyrics. Despite the optimistic nature of the instrumentals, lead singer Brian Warren rolls out surprisingly non-cloying lyrics about revolution, the state of Weatherbox, and even a snippet of French that was a popular rallying cry for decadent French poets. The song barely lets up, the drums roll on and on and Brian drops line after line of very self-aware music that reminded me somewhat of Max Bemis’s efforts on ‘Hebrews’. It’s the best song on the album, and one of the best of the year.
Thankfully, I managed to drag myself away from ‘Bathin’ In The Fuss’ and check out the rest of the album this time. The rest of the album reflects what I assume to be typical Weatherbox fare; Brian’s lyrics are consistently inventive and inviting, rarely giving up the full story upon first listen and in some cases, such as on the track ‘The Devil And Whom’, not upon second or even third listen. This is at heart a pop/rock album, but it’s simply so much smarter than most that reside in the genre. Instrumentals are mixed up and multiple songs eschew the typical song structure that pervades the genre, the lyrics as mentioned are varied and clever, and even when you seem to have a song figured out, it’s often capable of shifting direction unexpectedly. Penultimate track ‘The Last White Lighter’ is particularly good at this. Brian’s voice comes through as barely a whisper, crackling with electronic influences and supported by so-quiet-it’s-barely-there instrumentals. By the mid-point of the song, it sounds Queen-esque, and by the end, it could be mistaken for an upbeat punk song.
Weatherbox achieve this consistently throughout the album. It’s inventive, it’s clever, and it’ll pleasantly surprise you with a change of direction or lyrics that simply beg to be heard again and again. That’s not to say every song follows this idea; ‘Pagan Baby’ and ‘Radio Hive’ are pretty typical rock songs, solid, not spectacular, and closer ‘Love Me A Good Microcosm’ is beautiful but nothing musically you’ve not heard before. The closer does its job marvellously though, and by the time Brian is repeating “Oh yeah it's time to go home” at the end of the track, well, you won’t want to.
Is it the best album I've ever heard? No. But in a genre dominated largely by monotony, it's a welcome and intelligent breath of fresh air. ‘Bathin’ In The Fuss’ will inevitably dominate my playtime for the next few days – but this time I’m determined more than ever to continue to roll the entire album, because it certainly warrants the playtime.