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Weird Nightmare
s/t Sean Kitching , June 1st, 2022 08:05

Alex Edkins of METZ used his time off the road to explore his most melodic side. Sean Kitching listens appreciatively

Written and recorded by METZ guitarist and vocalist Alex Edkins during the past couple of years when his band found themselves off the road because of the pandemic, Weird Nightmare retains the adrenaline rush of METZ, but also lets Edkins’ love of 60s pop, garage rock and Flying Nun Records rise to the surface

METZ have long been a personal favourite, partly because of the intensity and wild abandon of their live shows but also due to their compelling synthesis of the cream of the crop of 90s alternative rock tropes. Like Hüsker Dü before them, the noise that METZ makes was always a life-affirming one, an ebullient racket beneath whose tumultuous surface infectious 60s-inflected melodies swarmed as if threatening to break through en masse at any moment. On his (mostly) solo debut outing as Weird Nightmare, Alex Edkins finally lets those melodies loose, resulting in an irresistibly euphoric blast of feedback spattered garage-pop that is just what the doctor ordered to chase away any lingering post-lockdown blues.

Speaking of the album’s single, ‘Lusitania’, Edkins said that the song represented a turning point in recording the album, where he realised that his primary goal was to “make songs that would make people feel good.” The feeling of “waking up from a terrible dream or winter changing into spring”, he felt, was what people needed most at this time, hence his decision to name the project Weird Nightmare. Recalling Guided by Voices with its instantly memorable sing-along chorus, ‘Lusitania’ is the album’s most overt stab at anthemic pop-rock. Opener, ‘Searching For You’, could almost be a METZ track, with a little more jangle added into the mix and a touch of the Ramones’ bubblegum pop. ‘Nibs’ sticks perhaps the closest to the METZ palette of all the songs on the record, yet despite/because of this, it’s one of the stand-out tracks revealed by an initial listen.

Alicia Bognanno of Nashville-based rock band Bully is one of a few guest appearances on the record, adding vocals to ‘Wrecked’, effectively saving the song from being discarded, according to Edkins, who said: “I sent it to Alicia and she lifted it way up.” The aptly named ‘Sunday Driver’ ambles along at a far slower pace than the other tracks, but brings with it a deep and persuasive melodic swell, hidden away in its undercarriage. ‘Darkroom’ veers off swiftly on to the motorway, lines speeding past with a hypnotic regularity. Stand out track ‘Dream’ approaches the kind of droning psych garage rock exemplified by Deerhunter’s excellent Cryptograms. ‘Zebra Dance’ is a brief acoustic interlude, while 'Oh No', features a guest appearance by Canadian alt-pop singer Chad VanGaalen. ‘Holding Out’, the album’s final and longest song at 7:41, returns to the kind of territory occupied by ‘Dream’. Sketching out that track’s ‘garage ambient’ feel over a larger timescale, this suggests a far larger soundscape than the simple tune that drives it with the application of subtle but assured impressionistic smudges and echoes. This is a fine debut solo outing for Edkins. One that is likely to appeal to the majority of METZ fans, as well as having the potential to draw in a new audience for his music.