“Please tell me about yourself / You’re looking sweet with your slices of pizza...” This is just about as mushy as Jasmyn Burke gets on her band Weaves’ debut album. It is also completely unmediated; the line comes from a rapturously chanted verse in the band’s first improvised song, “Two Oceans,” about the love for their favorite affordable wine brand in native Toronto. Swinging among three chords, the structure is simple, but the frenzy of Burke’s singing, speaking, and yelping, along with the screech of co-conspirator Morgan Waters’ guitar, create a magnetic wash of pure energy.
Even when the songs on the self-titled LP are premeditated, they maintain that wild energy. As NPR, Vice, Pitchfork, and all the other publications that have included Weaves on “Bands to Watch” lists in the past couple years have noted, the band performs with a feverishness that borders on unhinged. They describe how when playing live, Burke takes songs that existed only as phone voice memos a few years ago and breathes life into them with performances that include giggles, staring contests with the audience, and a constant morphing of her voice, while Waters’ guitar braids in and out of the vocal melodies and drummer Spencer Cole and bassist Zach Bines threaten to unspool. All of that is easy to imagine while listening to the alive—and exhilarating—tunes on Weaves.
The frenetic mood is simple to grasp; the character of the sound is more difficult to describe. With a straightforward formula of guitar, bass, drums, and singing, they have the makings of a basic rock group, but they wield that formula unconventionally. Often, Burke’s voice is an instrument and Waters’ instrument is a voice, and the two double (“Tick”) or call and respond (“Birds & Bees”) in a kind of cross-species duet. This duo, along with other rhythmic and sonic idiosyncrasies push Weaves into the territory of art, but they never get too precious about it. Listening, you have the sense that rule breaking comes naturally—from the joy of following good impulses (as the whoops and laughter verify). And those impulses never stray too far from the fundamentals of pop.
None of the songs are too esoteric in theme, either. In addition to the pizza line from “Two Oceans,” Burke sings about drinking “beer with your jean jacket on” (“Eagle”), calling someone out for street voyeurism (“One More”), and ambition (“I’m living in this shithole ... hoping for something to take me off this land,” she sings on “Shithole”). For every audacious line, though, Weaves also includes an emotionally vulnerable moment. On the album opener, “Tick,” the instruments soar at the end of the refrain as Burke sings about the anxiety of wasting time: “Sweetie, I just want your biological clock / Tick tock.” In the closer, “Stress,” the instruments hush as a more soulful Burke sings, “I do not want the blisters / I will feel void until I’m dead.” At the end of this more serious track, though, her voice collapses into wordless syllables that twist and tangle with the guitar one last time. And one last time, the listener happily follows Weaves as they pursue the rapture of their experimentation.