Review: Weatherbox / Tigers Jaw
by Chad Jewett
“Pagan Baby,” our newest listen from the ever-thoughtful, always tuneful emo quartet Weatherbox, seems to find its energy in the thrill of clarity. Guitars churn in lines of precise motion, singer Brian Warren delivers his narratives with the clean elocution of Ted Leo or The Thermals’ Hutch Harris, missives like “Nice to meet you, now go away / I want to be alone, it’s such a nice day,” landing across the band’s radiant pop punk like neatly-ordered perennials. In the wake of “Bring Us The Head of Weatherbox,” our first glimpse at the band’s upcoming LP Flies In All Directions, it would seem that Weatherbox are increasingly locked in on honing their barbed guitar-pop down to compelling, anxious sunbursts, brief interludes that are all brains and melody, ultra-bright snapshots of quarter-life befuddlement. “Pagan Baby” is, quite happily, simply more of the same, a fleet, effortlessly catchy two minutes of self-deprecation and descending melodies that takes a lovely season like spring and adds a cloud or two.
“Slow Come On”
If “Nervous Kids,” our first glimpse at Tigers Jaw’s upcoming LP, Charmer, evoked golden Vagrant days of yore by accessing the fizzy keyboard-laced emo-pop of The Anniversary, then “Slow Come On” stakes out a similar time and place, this time playing in the stretched-out gloom of Alkaline Trio. Over vaguely darkened chords and organ lines that hang like Halloween streamers across the song’s palm-muted verses, co-singer Ben Walsh lets his melodies slow-dissolve in languorous tunefulness, recalling Matt Skiba in his most impressionist, mood-driven moments. But Tigers Jaw avoids the Trio’s verse-chorus literalism with small gestures that add to the compelling mini-drama of “Slow Come On”. Case in point: a mid-song pre-chorus of relative silence, a short interlude of singular guitar over which Walsh drawls: “Does it turn you on / To feel the night roll over slowly” bypassing the refraction of a generation of Morrissey imitators and going straight for the real thing, a Queen Is Dead mix of the Romantic and the Gothic. Indeed, the song’s mood-music shading is a good look for Tigers Jaw, an added dose of complication for a band that has always been earnest, bordering on transparent, but who fascinate when they embrace opacity, when they play around in the shadows for a change.