The Welcome got together almost exactly 4 years ago, and I got into them shortly after. They’ve been through a few lineup changes and released a whole slew of EP’s since they began, and now they’re finally putting out their first full-length. Weeknights builds on all their previous music, but makes a bigger leap forward than anything they’ve done in the past.
It’s a dance-pop record disguised as arena rock. It’s louder and more aggressive than their last EP, which I thought was a step in the right direction. Here they turn it up to eleven with tasty bass riffs and screaming guitars. The vocals seem to continue the slow push toward making Sarah Johnson the primary voice, with Gehring Miller happily adding depth while slashing about on his axe.
I was a bit surprised with the opening track, “The Idle Violator.” It starts off slow and dark, with playful touches of auto-tune on Johnson’s voice. Around two minutes in the song really picks up steam with a wicked organ sound that cuts through all the surrounding noise to become the main attraction. It slows down again and ends with the same ominous anxiety it begins.
“Henrietta” is a song they released a while back. It does a pretty good job of opening up the listener to the new pathways Weeknights follows, but it doesn’t come anywhere near painting a full picture of the record. There are a handful of songs that I prefer to “Henrietta,” but it is a good starting point for a new listener.
My favorite is probably “Latest Breaking,” which reminds me a little bit of a Los Campesinos! song interpreted by a blues/funk singer. There’s a ton of fuzz and distortion that makes it interesting and also seem like the band probably had a good time putting it together. Jonah Kort kicks it off on the drums, and his beat drives the whole song from beginning to end. It gets a bit weird, so it’s nice to have that constant force as a foundation.
For me this album is sweet because they’re realizing the potential everyone who heard them a few years ago wanted them to attain. To a new listener Weeknights might just be a really good album, and that’s okay too. At not quite 40 minutes, The Welcome don’t overstay theirs. Three of the fifteen tracks come in well under a minute. They’re transitions that I don’t think the album really needs, but they don’t hurt.
You can pick up a copy of Weeknights on Friday March 7th. If you’re in the Chicago area, The Welcome will be at Township playing a release show with Exit Ghost, Brother George, and Varsity. Great lineup. Should be a great show. Grab tickets here. If you go you also receive the album for free!