words by tom johnson
The only thing I really know about Weller is that they’re not Paul Weller. I know this because for a short while I mistook tweets about them as such, slightly confused by the people who were heralding a new record from the former Jam man. The PA in their handle is, of course, in relation to their Philly home, and the trio have been gathering up word-of-mouth platitudes over the past month or so since the release of their brilliant new self-titled record which was released on October 20th.
Seemingly informed by the playful but emotional indie-rock of yesteryear, Weller is an endlessly endearing collection of guitar-pop songs. Sometimes sweet and succinct, other times moody and melodic, the songs here are beautifully immediate, the choppy hooks leaping out of the stereo from first listen, grin-inducing in the warm-hearted glow at the core of each and every track here. Underpinned by that aforementioned E-word, the band’s embracing songwriting finds a way of moving past that gleaming reception and really digging in, even the brighter moments delivering lyrics that lend themselves to somewhat darker climes: “Swollen eyes. High at night. Uninspired,” they sing on Standard. “It’s not as bad as it seemed at 18, but the memories greet me in my worst dreams.”
Oft-repeated sentiments, then, but Weller back themselves throughout this record, knowing when to recline and when to let loose, consistently rounding up their strongest attributes to produce something remarkably solid, one of those decidedly personal records about self-growth in specific places but one, also, that still manages to mean something to us more casual observers. “Just hold on I can’t hear while you speak. I’d rather leave and breathe a sigh of relief. I can do that,” they sing on Buck, before the punchy closing track, Point Of Personal Privilege, moves through anger (“Fighting off the urge to resent you for all the things I lost when I met you”) to finish the record on something of a more positive note: “Painting pictures in my brain. New calmness I can relate to. I am all in,” they sing, that last word hanging in the air, weightless but hopeful, like it could land anywhere depending on how strong the wind blows.
Hardened but charming, forceful but fun (in all the ways great, lasting guitar-pop should be), Weller is a small revelation in a big, big world; like finding a best new friend when you’d just about given up on such a thing. Stream it in full below; you can download it via Bandcamp now on a name-your-price basis.