By: Hope Ankney
Impress your friends with a greeting card from Weller’s indie-hip collection that is their self-titled, debut full-length. With their high-spirited guitar-pop, the Philly trio is able to mask the emotional undertones of their lyrics with a smile-inducing sound that makes a cheap beer from a local bar taste that much better if this record is crackling over the speakers.
Weller doesn’t shy away from the peppy haze that makes indie-pop-punk enjoyable, but the way Harrison Nantz delivers the words on their self-titled crafts an atmosphere that has the listener paying more attention to the positive and negative rollercoaster that is the past more than the musicality itself. Dipping a foot into the territory of The Wonder Year’s Dan Campbell, Nantz has perfected the crossover of his story-telling into sound without directly handing his journal over. His soft vocals overlaid top guitars and prominent drums adds just enough contrast to keep the 23-minute record flowing smoothly.
The tracklist sways between charming and sweet to emotional and melancholic. With songs that lie short in nature, (the longer only skimming the 3-minute mark) Weller has a gift for coupling down-trodden lyrics with head-bopping instrumentals that is much more difficult than it seems. This is sampled from the blossoming of the record as words like “Break my arms and all my bones. Help me build them back up into the person that I was when I was 21” of “Answer Anything” are sung alongside sunny guitars. Most of the record follows suit, allowing one to reflect without turning a mood ring too dark.
“Calibrate” utilizes choppy vocals to pinpoint verses as the driving melody shows off a free-spirited attitude, and the mic-hugging articulation on “Standard” has the listener perking their ears, swaying their head to the beat. Shifting moods, The emo-wash Weller has overtakes the stripped track “Repeat” and proves to be the standout on the self-titled as it falls in step with big influencer Death Cab for Cutie. “I speak in cadence, slow and weak, as you prepare to leave” drip from Nantz’s lips throughout the rawest track permitting a melancholic break from the otherwise upbeat album.
Of course, when it comes to “Think Tank,” Weller capitalizes on their pop-punk tinge and questions if they should get out of their town. This contemplation is repeated throughout the track as its airy tones twist the otherwise general theme. Rounding out the record is the dynamic “Point of Personal Privilege” that cuts through with angry musicality and tense lyricism. The opening’s thrashing guitar sets apart from the otherwise soft-sounding record. The red-hued track battles with resentment over losses that result in meeting someone that has such a profound impact on your life. It moves like a catharsis- by the latter half of the song a calming realization arises. Almost therapeutic in nature, as Nantz punches out, “Painting pictures in my brain. New Calmness I can relate to. I am all in.” This assurance that weighs as the record fades out offers closure… or the closest thing to it.
Weller’s self-titled is booming with soft, indie-rock riffs and beatific vibes that is course but endearing. It holds a soft-spot in any guitar-pop lover’s collection, allowing one to create a unique atmosphere themselves out of the record. Whether one is sunbathing on the patio of a quaint coffee shop or starting conversations in a hole-in-the-wall bar, Weller could be the soundtrack to it all.