The great thing about the music Wednesday make, and a lot of alt-rock/grunge, is that it is so evocative of a particular kind and part of America. This just screams East Coast, New Jersey, ‘Clerks’, small town, teenage angst that becomes twenties angst, disenfranchised people and lethargy. Or at least it does to someone over the pond.
A lot of these lyrics are about stifling the boredom, the dull job, the drink, the drugs, the sex, the cars, the vegetation on the couch, the frustration to the point of screaming.
‘Hot Rotten Grass Smell’ is a full frontal assault, which doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s a slap in the face to make sure you were paying attention when you stuck the needle down. Just the name alone is already conjuring mental images, and you can actually smell the mounds of cut lawn that are heating up in the summer sun and the stench is wafting through the air.
‘Bull Believer’ is eight and a half minutes of everything above distilled into one song. Slacker, grunge, hardcore, and stoner all in one melting pot with lots of feedback. It seems like there is one guitarist whose job is just to stand in front of the amp, making it squeal. It’s quite unusual for the Magnum Opus to be the second track on the LP, but here it is. Bold choice. This would normally be the kiss-off.
Instead, Wednesday give us the morning after. There’s a hungover, hazy aesthetic to the proceeding songs, especially ‘Formula One’, a country inflected number, subtle slide guitar, horizontal delivery.
‘Chosen To Deserve’ is a curveball, swerving into the batter, straight from Drive By Truckers arsenal. Big power chords that changes the perspective of this band. Temporarily. There is still slide, there is the lackadaisical, slurred vocal and autobiographical stories of surviving and just being in these carbon copied towns and cities.
‘Bath County’ is the most radio friendly single from the LP so far, without compromising the Wednesday sound, it condenses the sprawling rock opera of ‘Bull Believer’ into a bite size blitz.
‘Quarry’ does kick off with a verse that is very indebted to ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and doesn’t try and hide that but the chorus does dissipate those feelings in a big ball of distorted wall-of-sound. The lyrics are almost aping Ray Davies‘ view, but instead of 1960’s London by the Thames, it’s 2020’s Asheville, South Carolina. There’s a drugs bust across the street as they laze around in the front yard watching everything play out, with a blasé, world weary eye.
Somehow, all of this seems quite glamorous to suburbanites in the UK. The aesthetic is glorified in indie films, probably directed by Kevin Smith or Zach Braff, depending on whether it’s funny or sad. Or neither.
This record, this band, seems to be so expansive. The volume and depth is huge, production is rich and velvety which adds to the idea that the subject matter is something to aspire to, something to crave.
Being a band as good as Wednesday is something to aspire to. This LP has been described as the rock album of the year so far, but it’s more than a rock record, it has more depth and textures and aural Easter Eggs. It might look like trouble, but it tastes like chocolate if you want it.