Weevil
Drunk on Light
2004
D+



unfinished business. That’s what Weevil are banking on music consumers believing, that is. Self-consciously giving in to their childhood influences of myriad bands that bridged the gap between electronic music and acoustic music, the group’s Drunk on Light owes much of its construction to bands like Seefeel, My Bloody Valentine and New Order. And while the group doesn’t necessarily ape these groups towards a bitter end, the similarities are enough that it sometimes gets in the way. More often than not, however, it doesn’t—sometimes to its detriment.

The second album of their short career, Drunk on Light would most easily be slotted in next to the Postal Service in your local record store. Relying a bit heavier on the guitar, the group mines the same sort of emotional landscapes and bubbling atmospheres. The two band members, Tom Betts and Jonny Picher, similarly pull the band into two distinct directions: acoustic and electronic. Recently, however, each has been moving closer to the other’s interest. For Drunk on Light, this is a good thing—merging the two elements even more strongly.

The album begins with a slightly melancholic piano on “Out of Time”, bracing the instrument against a Hook-esque bass and a live-sounding drum loop. The duo allow the instrumental backing to move inside one another for about two minutes until they take the helm vocally, with each singing the same part. The effect, when they finally make their way to the chorus, is relief as they strip the song of all of its constituent parts outside of the sweetly strummed guitar. Their voices mesh well with one another, slightly out of time with one another and equally distinct.

“Splinters”, coming a bit later in the album, is the first single and does what the rest of the album seems to want to do: a programmed drum loop ingratiates itself with the propulsive bass and the duo’s singing (which is featured prominently in the mix here). The chorus is a booming proposition, announcing itself confidently as the best song on the disc. It’s their most overt rip of MBV on the record—if Butcher and a heavy dose of gauze were thrown on top, it’d be uncanny—but it remains an enjoyable listen nonetheless.

But for every “Out of Time, “Splinters” or “Half Smile” there is an equally mediocre tune paired up near it. “A Million Things” drags on far too long for its plodding length, “Bytecry” revels a bit too much in its experimental bleeps that garnish the drums, “No End Soon” doesn’t quite ascend to the heights that it wants because of the inherent limitations of Picher and Betts’ voices and “Handburn” toils far too long in its own misery for any good to come out of it.

Weevil occupy a certain genre of music that is cresting right now with both fans and critics. As listeners grow more and more accustomed to the sound of pure electronics in their indie-pop, it seems assured that the group will attain some level of success. Despite this, Drunk on Light seems to feature few, if any, sounds that haven’t been created before and, more importantly, better. The unfinished business of continuing the lines drawn from New Order and My Bloody Valentine remains that way—unfinished.
Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2004-04-15
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