In 2016, Weaves’ self-titled album was among the most anticipated of the year, lauded internationally upon its release for the band’s sideways approach to guitar pop, described as “one of the most unpredictable sounds of 2016” (MTV), and “a triumphant assault on all things conventional” (i-D). For the band, the year was a transformative experience, spent mostly on the road, playing festivals and touring with fellow 2016 breakout artists like Sunflower Bean and Mitski. Upon returning home to Toronto, rather than succumb to the exhaustion of their relentless world takeover, the band was propelled forward by their own momentum, which they corralled like the barely contained energy of their explosive live sets. Surprisingly, singer Jasmyn Burke and guitarist Morgan Waters found themselves possessed by an irrepressible burst of creative energy.
“With the year we had I think we really hit this sweet spot where your brain is fully ready for something new, but has absorbed all of this information and it all just spews out,” says Burke. “You just sort of let music happen.”
Weaves entered the studio in early 2017 to begin recording what would become their sophomore LP, Wide Open (out now on Buzz, Kanine & Memphis Industries). Assisted by once again by engineer Leon Taheny (Austra, Fucked Up), they approached the album as a highwire act - walking the line between intention and their own gleefully anarchic creative impulses. “We tried to navigate a balance between thinking and not thinking,” says Waters. “We find that we don’t really figure anything out with words or rehearsing so for the most part we just didn’t. Sometimes it’s better that we don’t try to control it and there’s something nice about allowing yourself not to be in control.”
Weaves’ freewheeling compositional style is grounded by Burke’s songwriting, which is both more focused and more personal than on past releases. The record sees Burke extend herself as a performer - moving more frequently to the center of arrangements and revealing new facets of her unique and powerful singing voice. Meanwhile, Waters and the band’s dynamic rhythm section of bassist Zach Bines and drummer Spencer Cole find ways to interpret the growing diversity of her expression.
From the glammy Saturday night strut of “Slicked,” to the stripped-down, pedal steel abetted torch song “Wide Open,” to the searing “Scream,” a warped duet with Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq that likely constitutes Weaves’ wildest recording to date, the album captures a band for whom exploration is a compulsion making a self-assured step into the unknown. The album displays an expansive and anthemic quality in songs like the opener “#53” and the sweeping “Walkaway,” without discarding the punky pyrotechnics that defined their first LP.
“In making this album I didn’t feel any pressure or any fear, and I think that might be the difference between this album and the last,” Burke reflects. “It’s been a weird year, and even on the album cover we’re in bright colors, but we’re covered in soot and we look like we came out of an explosion and I think that’s kind of the way life is. Hopefully you can bring some light to people.”