While technology such as the internet has brought about many positives for artists and bands, it also holds many pitfalls - such as the insurmountable deluge of releases pushed out on a weekly basis. What this can often mean is an incredible record can go months without being heard, buried amidst a sea of inferior others. Occasionally such gems may sail off into oblivion, never to be seen or heard again.
A similar fate could quite easily have beset Jinx, the second long player by San Francisco borne noise combo Weekend. Released in July when the music industry winds down and summer festivals take precedence, it casually slipped by unnoticed despite yours truly spending the past couple of years waiting patiently for a follow-up to 2010's soaring debut Sports.
Not that Weekend have been idle during the interim period. Indeed much has happened since, most notably the band extending its line-up to a four-piece and relocating to the more bohemian confines of Brooklyn. Red, the five-track EP released nine months after Sports perhaps gave a subtle indication of where Weekend were heading next. While the tumultuous, ear-shredding gusts of pedal infused noise that punctuated its predecessor weren't completely sidelined, Red heralded a previously undiscovered electronic element to Weekend's make-up suggesting their next recorded venture would command a similar focus.
Also it was fuelled by personal traumas: singer and lyricist Shaun Durkan spent six months in therapy, his breakdown caused by a family bereavement. As such, Jinx is a much more personal record than its creators have cut in the past. Although Durkan's words are once again buried in reams of delay, echo and reverb, those which can be deciphered shed light on his state of mind during Jinx's fruition. Take the penultimate 'Scream Queen' for example, in parts a dead ringer for Joy Division's 'She's Lost Control' due to its bludgeoning hi-hat at the forefront of the mix, in which Durkan intones "Fade away... I don't suffer" with repetitive force as the tension builds. Similarly, on the more direct and punchier 'Adelaide', the frontman declares "I want to save us from the world." Cathartic as Jinx is, there's still a feeling Weekend may be holding back a little in places. While not exactly polished, it doesn't quite match the brooding intensity of Sports despite the tragic circumstances surrounding its existence.
A lot of that is quite possibly down to the extra member and additional instrumentation. Indeed, on first listen, the intro to opener 'Mirror' isn't a million miles away from the one that greets us with 10cc's 'I'm Not In Love' or Dire Straits' 'Money For Nothing'. Only when Durkan and fellow noise peddler Kevin Johnson open up mid-song does 'Mirror' take on a harsher extreme. Previous comparisons with the likes of A Place To Bury Strangers come to the fore on 'July', a visceral slab of densely orchestrated melancholia that characterizes Weekend's ethos. Along with album mid-point 'Sirens', it's arguably the closest in structure to the full throttle noisefest of the first record.
More intriguing though is 'Celebration, FL', its synthesized melody and submarine bass sounding like refugees from the early Eighties. Think Bauhaus covering Black's 'Brilliant Mind', or the salient depths of The Cure's dissonant opus Pornography and you're somewhere nearby. 'It's Alright' also follows a more blissed out path towards solitude, only reneging every so often via a heavily condensed rhythm nagging away implicitly in the background.
Closing with the six-minute-long 'Just Drive', which starts incisively without letting up for its entire duration, Jinx strikes a devastating blow for the most part while courageously showing off several new strings to its creators' bow in others. Loud, brash, pulsating yet intrinsically reflective from start to finish. Jinx may well be littered with musical reference points ranging from the halcyon era of post-punk to the present, but as Durkan said in a recent interview, "I don’t know anyone who’d be offended at being compared to those bands," and who are we to argue.
8Dom Gourlay's Score