Weaves take pretentious fiddlings of art rock and duct tape them to DIY garage – forcing something that seems so wrong on paper into life like a string of knock-off firecrackers. It fizzes and pops and leaves a listener giddy with their fickle dance through genres. ‘Wide Open’ sees them refine their wild boundaries and stretch their formula into new regions, whilst still performing the mercurial balancing act that made them such a joyous treat the first time round.
Kicking off with massive lead single ‘#53’ that introduced the expansive new sights Jasmyn Burke and co looked to be heading in, the next few tracks see the quartet play with their elastic-band music like a cat with a ball of wool, pawing with the Weaves recipe and pulling at loose threads. ‘Slicked’ is a melange of dirty guitars, crowned with a wicked singalong chorus and begging to soundtrack revenge on a scumbag ex; ‘Law and Panda’ is a 4 chords-to-the-wall anthem that’s liberally sprinkled with handclaps.
By track 5, the title track, the elastic band has snapped – pulling on so many loose threads can only lead to nakedness. A rare moment of vulnerability calls out the dizzying theatrics for the disguise they are, revealing an exposed emotional core that so often gets overlooked. It’s a plucky suckerpunch from the four-piece who, after building up an almost aggressively cheerful outlook, let down their defenses and catch audiences unaware. Burke confesses as if to a close friend, backed by a raw guitar melody and her own voice. Her admission of vulnerability (‘I’m wide open, for you’) is painful and seeks assurance with a distressed desperation. The wild ride they’ve become known for is escapism. ‘Wide Open’ is the painful plummet back down to Earth.
The rest of the album sees the songs continue their rise into skittish melodrama, bringing back familiar motifs such as fun, throwaway recording experiments (‘Motherfucker’ is a minute-long vocal loop) like a comfort blanket, rebuilding the band following the brutal strip-down. ‘Scream’ fashions a jigsaw of mouth noises, kids-TV plodding guitar and tribal drumming into a threatening, industrial tour-de-force, Burke remaining fully in control whilst all hell breaks loose around her.
Wide Open stands triumphant in conceding depth to their surface-level fun without losing sight of the wide-eyed wonder that lets the band project happiness. Perhaps playfully nicknamed ‘their Americana record’ by Burke and guitarist Morgan Waters, the origins of the curveball nickname are now obvious: flawed, yet still standing, Weaves follow in the footsteps of classical songwriters by walking the line between heartbreak and euphoria. The album is still the flitting ball of weirdo-pop we could have expected, but as the album artwork shows, no-one can dabble with fire without burning their colours a little.