Psychedelic rock can be a wonderful thing when it’s done well. Hearing Black Lips and Ty Segall create vast swathes of mesmerising noise with minimal effort brings a satisfaction that more synthetic indie bands struggle to deliver. While Leeds quartet Weirds take some influence from those outfits, they also aim for a bigger sound on their debut album, ‘Swarmculture.’
Switching the razor wire production of these groups for a fatter, fuzzier tone that has become a staple of British hard rock post-Royal Blood. ‘Swarmculture’ threads together a spacey musical canvas with slithering guitar riffs splashed throughout.
In one sense, this lets Weirds experiment with song arrangements, making the album’s biggest hooks feel like a welcome surprise every time they smash out of the speakers. Opener ‘Things That Crawl’ demonstrates this by letting 80’s pop synthesisers and twinkling lead guitars build up the tension, before introducing gargantuan fuzzed-up grooves – reminiscent of Swedish stoner rock masters Truckfighters – which brings the song crashing to life. They do this shtick very well.
Yet this also introduces an unequal balance to ‘Swarmculture’, as the calmer moments of haze aren’t as effective. While the swagger of ‘Phantom’ and bounce-laden chorus of ‘Weird Sun’ demonstrate the band’s gusto, the verses in between those choruses, plus the fully lackadaisical performances in ‘Crows’ and ‘Tunneling’, tend to drift too slowly and get lost in themselves, leaving listeners impatient for another big hook.
There’s a lot of potential exhibited on ‘Swarmculture’ and repeated plays will make the difficult parts of these songs come out of their shells. For the most part, Weirds prove that they excel in the catchier and groovier side of psychedelic rock. With more experience and focus on their strengths, their follow-up could be something special, but that special thing just isn’t here yet.
‘Swarmculture’ by Weirds is out now on Alcopop! Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)