Starting life as the solo project of Harrison Nantz, Weller’s debut album is recorded, produced and mixed by Jake Ewald of Modern Baseball and follows lengthy tours across the States. The songs are based around real-life experiences and the difficulties and joys Harrison went through as he relocated to Philadelphia – a place where he knew no one to begin with.
The short and sharp album opens with Evan Clark Moorehead’s Pinegrove-esque bass line of ‘Answer Anything’. This song is full of emo tendencies as Harrison talks about trying to find a better place for his mental health as he moves town (‘blank face in an unfamiliar space’) and then goes on to think about how he may have to look to the past to live a more positive life in future: ‘Snap my fingers, break my arms and bones, help me build my way back up the person I was when I was 21’. The tracks on the album are full of crystal-clear and angular hooks but combine these with pop sensibilities in the vein of Death Cab or Jimmy Eat World and throw in some frenetic drums. ‘Boroughs’ talks about learning lessons from when you were a teenager and how even the most simple things like ‘white sheets and a cleaner place to sleep’ can help you make a more positive impact.
‘Standard’ opens with the poignant words ‘Today’s been a disaster, preparing myself for a difficult morning after’ and throws in mentions of everything from Ford Escorts to fondly remembered nights in New York City before throwing in the devastating query: ‘How come it sounds nice when no one answers?’ There are elements of Tim Kasher’s solo work on ‘Buck’, which opens with positive thoughts about this new start (‘I have a good life in a new place, Queen-sized bed for one’) but then moves on to worries about the loneliness this move has generated (‘up at 6 just to look at my phone’). There are hugely anthemic guitars and a killer rhythmic hook on ‘Every Other Day’, while the closing’Point of Personal Privilege’ seems to take inspiration from The National as Harrison laments some of his choices and how he has a tendency of ‘avoiding questions I should have asked’.
Weller’s self-titled debut is a hugely accomplished record full of wit and honesty and packs so much into its all-too-short running time of just 23 minutes.