Originally the solo creation of Harrison Nantz, Philadelphia’s relative unknown quantity of Weller is completed by drummer Jeremy Berkin. With two EPs released since forming in 2016, ‘Weller’ is the self-titled full-length debut from the duo, and finds Nantz as the creative driving force behind short, simple emo-inflected guitar-pop tracks.
The first point of note is that it is just that – short. With only two songs, ‘Standard’ and ‘Every Other Day’ breaching the three-minute mark and one, ‘Think Tank’, timed at just a minute and 15 seconds, the entire record can be consumed three times in just over an hour.
Brevity, of course, is not an issue in itself, but the simplicity can feel like it is begging for something more than a lone guitar and Nantz’s near-spoken, nasally vocal. ‘Standard’‘s flashes of keyboard and banjo provide a rare change of scenery that is much welcome by the album’s midpoint.
‘Weller’ is most successful when it allows its songs to build and grow naturally. On ‘Answer Anything’ and ‘Buck’, strong closing sections are the best moments on the album, and crucially sound like Nantz and Berkin are having a good time. It’s less certain if the same can be said of the clumsy, anti-climactic rhythm of closer ‘Point of Personal Privilege’. Nantz more than once references the unlikely, with lines like “It looked like Christmas in April” on ‘Answer Anything’, or “Hurricane weather in 40 degrees” on ‘Every Other Day’, yet his work here often falls short due to the way it routinely ambles along in third gear.
‘Weller’‘s length is more befitting of an EP than an album, and its showcase of the band’s bread and butter gives the sense that Nantz’s next work could possess the greater scope and invention that he appears capable of.
‘Weller’ by Weller is out now on Tiny Engines.
Words by Peter Stewart (@PeteStew_)