Flies In All Directions

Written by: TL on 23/07/2014 15:39:57

For the past couple of months I have been trying to figure out how I have managed to sleep on former My American Heart guitarist Brian Warren and his solo project Weatherbox, which — despite the cast around Warren revolving quite a bit — has gained considerable respect and attention from the indie rock underground over the course of its now three albums. The band emerged on Manchester Orchestra's label imprint Favorite Gentlemen and soon toured in support of Say Anything, which makes sense, because Warren's agitated turns of phrase are highly similar to those of the latter's Max Bemis, while his voice sounds akin to that of the former's Andy Hull, who also guests on "The Devil And Whom?" — one of the standout tracks on the recently released third album "Flies In All Directions". Furthermore, and not only due to the similarly ringing bandnames, it's hard to listen to Weatherbox without thinking of them as a more energetic and modern day Weakerthans.

The sound then, is one characterized by churning indie rock guitars intertwined with the kind of off kilter singing which many have discovered via Conor Oberst, and it's been pretty clear from each Weatherbox release that Warren is guitarist and lyricist equally, with vocals, chords and quirky riffs trading spotlight regularly and seamlessly. With 07's "American Art" he made a sizzling and intriguing introduction, while 09's "Cosmic Drama" saw him withdraw to a more eccentric, echoing and down-beat mood, yet both early albums yielded cool songs. (I recommend "Atom Smash", "The Clearing" and "The Dreams" from the former and "Mind Things To W.A.S.T.E" or "Contactus, The Little Green Man" from the latter)

After a five year break where the project's status has seemed up in the air, Weatherbox is now back with "Flies In All Direction", on which Warren seems more consolidated in his position, which is one from which he still lashes out however, seemingly having had it with people expecting him to lead his life according to their conventions instead of his own. The result is an album littered with catchy moments, particularly but not limited to the first half. Opener "Pagan Baby" gets right in your head with the verse melody and line "You heard I was a nice boy but you didn't hear it from me." while the "uh-uhs" and choppy guitar of "Bring Us The Head Of Weatherbox" could just as easily have fit on "Anarchy, My Dear", as could "Radio Hive" when it morphs from the already memorable lines of "I want to write the anti-hymn, something grim. Yeah, such a disgustingly evil song, it makes the devil sing along" into the resolution of: "All you know is wrong, leave that road, we pull off, we hammer on!".

In my eyes the album arrives at its highlight in the aforementioned "The Devil And Whom?", which dives, along with the observation of a suicide jumper, to the depths of drug-induced despondence and seems just disturbed enough to look back up and catch a glimpse of a light to return to. Of course it doesn't hurt that it has a simple, shout-along-able refrain readily available immediately on its surface. As a whole, things do get long in the teeth somewhere over the course of the remaining seven of the album's whopping thirteen tracks, indicating that the very down to earth, warm and analogue-sounding production is perhaps a smidge too homogenous to really bring out the subtle individualities of Warren's relatively modest reach and range of expression, but while this has a very real, strangely hindering effect on the back-to-back listening experience, that seems beside the point. Because by all indications, Warren's gifts as a quirky musician - as apparent as they are from the dynamic twists of guitar and rhythm - are still only second to his appeal as a lyricist, whose lines continually hint that there are thoughts to be provoked in memorable fashion here, given the listener invests the patience and the attention.


Download: Pagan Baby, The Devil And Whom?, Bring Us The Head Of Weatherbox, Kick-Flips, Radio Hive
For The Fans Of: Say Anything, Manchester Orchestra, The Front Bottoms, The Weakerthans, Weezer

Release date 13.05.2014
Favorite Gentlemen/Triple Crown Records

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