Review Summary: Allison Weiss is someone to watch in the coming years, and Say What You Mean is a record to listen to as soon as you can get your hands on it.
If you’re asking, “Who is Allison Weiss?” then you are asking a good question. The young New Yorker is an avid DIY artist who already has 3 albums under her belt. She has worked with everyone from Wonder Years frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell to Candy Hearts to Lou Reed. When asked to describe her music in an article for AltPress, her words are: “I usually say that I write really catchy indie rock about my feelings. I’d also say that it’s upbeat and fun, but I can get really super-sad.” No one can put it better than she did. On her No Sleep Records debut Say What You Mean, she gives you exactly that; a record that is simultaneously fun and traumatic; upbeat and melancholy. There is screaming; there is laughing; there is rocking; there is dancing; you can even hear an instant of Weiss crying at the end of “How To Be Alone.” Needless to say, Allison Weiss is someone to watch in the coming years, and Say What You Mean is a record to listen to as soon as you can get your hands on it. Then hold on to this one, because it can find its home in the winter just as easily as in the summer.
The record kicks off with its first single, the very catchy “Making It Up”, which will not cease to get your head banging and your toe tapping at the same time. This tune also introduces us to Weiss’ crafty blend of upbeat music with her melancholy lyrical content; Tell me you remember / The way you used to call me your own / Tell me you remember / The way you used to say this was home / Tell me that I’m making it up / And I’ll leave you alone. Following the opener is one of the top tracks of the record, “One Way Love”, the booming rock number which is the fastest and most hopeful and most likely to get you two-stepping (more in an 80’s way than a hardcore way) that you’ll find on Say What You Mean. After a few tracks, you start to get the hang of how Weiss’ songs work; nearly every track has a moment that just begs you to belt out with your friends as you’re driving in the summer sun. Whether it’s the addicting post-chorus of “Nothing Left”, or the epic build up at the end of “How To Be Alone”, there are many great moments of energy bursting out of the seams of almost every song on the first five tracks of the record.
The first half of Say What You Mean concludes with the album’s masterpiece, the stripped-down, refreshing “Wait For Me”, featuring a perfectly placed and not over-the-top string section that fills the atmosphere as Weiss sings her most honest and clever lyrics yet: I forgot what it felt like to feel so alive / So I’m packing my suitcase and changing my mind / I forgot what it’s like to look the things you want right between the eyes / It’s never been so hard to say goodbye. The words are said with such raw emotion that it feels as if you are sitting next to her on her bed as she sings it. That’s a common feeling for Say What You Mean as a whole; you forget that you aren’t sitting there with Weiss, wanting to hug her, cry with her, scream with her, and jam some MxPx covers with her on the weekends. This is due to her genius and genuine lyricism that really invites you into her conscience.
The second wave of songs on the record pick up right where they left off; the tempo jumps back up and the distortion turns back on, but the deep lyrics remain. “Don’t Go” and “Hole In Your Heart” are good examples of something that is just as evident in the first half of the record as the second: Weiss’ songs don’t have to rely on a chorus to grab the listener like other artists in the genre. She uses her verses to their full potential, with memorable melodies and meaningful lyrics. It is impossible to find even one verse of any song on the record with throw away lyrics. Sure, they can seem cliché or predictable, but that’s the beauty of break-up songs; we all have felt the exact same emotions as everyone else, and Weiss writes them in such a way that makes us feel like she is speaking our mind but with wording we would never have the talent to compose ourselves.
Say What You Mean’s closing track brings us back to sitting with Weiss on her bed late at night again, as she softly sings right from her diary: There’s something endearing about this empty room / The sun’s in my eyes now; it’s quarter past two / and I got my guitar and you got your space / I’m stuck in this place. The lo-fi feel of this track makes the song seem very personal and homemade, and as the song builds dynamically, it also builds in cleanness of production as she repeatedly sings: I’ll be okay. This is the perfect way to end the record, with a glimpse of hope as Weiss seems to be alone in her room, looking out her window as the sun overwhelms her vision. It is too comfortable and familiar to focus on the woes of yesterday, but it can be a powerful feeling to turn and hope for tomorrow instead, because there is always going to be another sunrise, just like there is always going to be replay value for an album like Say What You Mean.
Making It Up
One Way Love
How To Be Alone
Wait For Me