Just as Yin has its Yang, East Coast and Philly-centered Emo had its Midwest counterpart, and cheerful Summer found a melancholic repeat in Indian Summer –the Slacker Punk world too must find a sense of diversity somewhere. And if you haven’t heard of the band Wieuca, it’s probably because the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘Georgia’ certainly isn’t, “sunny beaches and punk rock!” Well get the hell over your bias, it’s not worth carrying that shame forever. Thus, Wieuca responds with a sophomore strike –Guilt Complex.
Somewhere between Wavves’ King of The Beach and FIDLAR’s general existence –the whole slacker punk thing got a little old. Bands seemed to operate on formulas –‘I like guitar reverb and my life is boring, woe is my beer’. Nonetheless, the genre stuck with us like, not even gum on the shoe, but some melted asphalt that ruins a perfectly good pair of sandals. Now that’s not to say there hasn’t been gems in this whole niche of punk rock, but we’ve been in need of a genuine change of pace.
Wieuca’s new album, Guilt Complex adds that ‘change of pace’ that the punk world so desperately needed. Guilt Complex isn’t just defined by distorted guitar and slick, surf-reminiscent riffs –but instead made distinct by its surprising intelligence in lyrics and style.
Guilt Complex opens with “Snitches Get Stitches” –an eerie, slacker takes some bad L, introduction. Bluntly, the track is a dark crawl compared to the rest of the album –a clammy handshake. A closing solo and repeating guitar line push things along in the right direction and put the band in a more comfortable place. “Slow War” picks up with a renewing, clean guitar line, bolstered by a more aggressive distorted line of chords. The vocals bring out a near-shout. Surprisingly, there’s a swift riff in there that brings out some twinkly vibes –“You always do this. Stop acting stupid.” The vocals carry along with their troubled tales amongst a barrage of crashing percussion. As the album progresses, the band becomes ever more distinct.
It took until the third track until it settled in just how special Wieuca is. Track one and two are the bait, “Atrium” is the switch. Plucky-chipper guitar strings set the mood. Another tricky guitar riff wiggles its way in followed by exhausted vocals. The instrumental exchanges that build from there are fairly simple, but well-designed and better played. The percussion is minimal at times, but always lively –a tasteful hint for the song overall. It’s like a nod to the summery blast that was Generationals’ Heza with the benefit of punk defiance. The album follows up with “Enamel” which lowers the mood if for only a moment –a few shouts, a few sweet guitar lines, but the burned out sense increases.
The first, most memorable surprise of Guilt Complex follows –”Building a Shrine” is defiantly unique and clever. Wieuca lowers the mood and pace to a drag. A nimble guitar line dances around a thundering percussion. They settle and make way for a lyrical ode to life. Notably, a country steel guitar interjects and defines the song as something more than just ‘heavy lyrics and neat, stringy riffs’. And just before you get the idea that the steel guitar will be something of a gimmick –the country returns
Wieuca’s Guilt Complex is impressive. It has an excellent start that invokes the Slacker vibe. Track by track the band introduces more of their Southern influence as a tasteful nod. After the fifth track, it really became a question of how much longer the band could keep up the hard work. Much to my surprise, Wieuca had more than one trick up their sleeves.
As we pass through an interlude, “Gas Giant,” the album begins to take new form altogether. A sample warns us that we’re progressing, something-something more difficult. From here on, Wieuca builds Guilt Complex into a wonderful jam session.
“Canadian Tuxedo” picks up with a mean tease –the mood stays tired for half the track and booms with a shout for the rest. Then a guitar solo that screams rock’n’roll reminds you –it’s going to get dirty. The band makes a smooth transition to the next track.
The second, most memorable surprise of Guilt Complex lies in the insane, constantly building jam, “Cold Beach.” A highly distorted guitar loop adds a Game Boy soundtrack esque vibe. Add in some spacey keys and a poppy percussion and the song takes on some really out-there vibes. At times, it feels as if everything is out of synch, yet somehow melding together –like frequencies from outer space flooding your headphones all at once. It’s atmospheric, still beachy, but distant –a jam from another planet.
Back to the surf and slack, Wieuca picks up fast and hard with blazing guitar lines and aggressive vocals. “No Good” is intense and mean. It would make David Lynch’s Twin Peaks return cower. It reminds me of The Dead Boys’ ‘Sonic Reducer’ –appropriate considering Wieuca cites the THUG soundtrack as a major influence. And it’s funny, because frankly the whole album could be a Tony Hawk Soundtrack –hell yeah.
Guilt Complex deserves to be the breakout that Wieuca needs. You’d be doing yourself a disservice for ignoring this one. Slacker/garage/surf punk can’t always be tied down to sunny California. Based in Georiga, Wieuca brings along some Southern inspired twists while keeping the mood sun-kissed enough to stay familiar. So open up your ears and let something new flow on in –Guilt Complex will more than just win you over, but leave you begging for more and itching to visit Wieuca’s next show.