Vancouver foursome Weed’s 2012 EP “Gun Control” sounded like it was recorded on a rain-soaked boom box in a drafty suburban garage in 1992. But even that couldn’t dampen or disguise singer-guitarist Will Anderson’s off-the-charts melodic instincts. And for all its grungy bluster, the Canadians’ first full-length “Deserve” — out Tuesday on Seattle’s Couple Skate label — is a pop record at heart.
Drenched in feedback and willfully detuned, opener “Heal” (listen) segues confidently into churning first single “Set Me Back” (listen). As guitarist Kevin Doherty, bassist Hugo Noriega and drummer Bobby Siadat ratchet up the intensity, Anderson’s melancholic mumble morphs into a Cobain-ian caterwaul.
Mid-album gems “Hollowed Out” (listen) and “Your Right” (listen) match shoegaze grandiosity to energetic punk rhythms, while “Gun Shy” (listen) and “Granted” (listen) feature deft drop-D chord changes, major-minor key shifts and unglued fury to rival the early work of bands like Dinosaur Jr. or …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Warped guitar noise bookends nearly every song, giving the 27-minute LP a decidedly live feel.
Though more elaborate than the purposefully lo-fi “Gun Control,” no one is going to accuse “Deserve” of being overproduced. The record’s tonal language ranges from overdriven to distorted to completely blown-out, and its muffled drum sounds suggest the band tours so hard Siadat can’t find time to replace his battered heads and cracked cymbals.
Or maybe he just doesn’t care to. Where lesser musicians might use limited resources as an excuse for laziness, Anderson, Doherty, Noriega and Siadat treat it as a challenge, wringing rich emotions from cheap equipment and winning hooks from cacophonous murk.
With “Deserve,” Weed emerge as wild-cards of Vancouver’s fertile punk scene, which, last year, saw local products like White Lung and Nü Sensae shed similarly scuzzy beginnings for crossover success and critical acclaim. Though the band’s sound is as hazy as its name implies, its future seems anything but.