Weval - Weval

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  • Over three years and three EPs, Harm Coolen and Merijn Scholte have honed a specific mood, albeit one that's difficult to pin down. As Weval, the Amsterdam duo evoke a kind of resigned melancholia, which isn't to say their music is depressing. Their songs summon optimism and heartache in equal measure, giving them a depth that's central to their appeal. That well of feelings flows consistently through their self-titled debut album for Kompakt. Much of Weval's emotional heft comes from Coolen and Scholte's sense of songcraft—they have both an acute ear for melody and a skilled way with arrangement. These 12 tracks are sometimes sweet but never saccharine; their structures are recognizable as pop, though it's pop from some half-forgotten dream. The loping, occasionally languid rhythms are sparse and rarely straightforward, sometimes skittering in the breeze. Subdued vocal passages are often assembled from sampled bits and pieces, and their reverbed, far-off feel obscures any meaning. Enhancing the music's hazy aura, a layer of warm distortion hovers like vapor over guileless keyboard riffs. That smooth palette is part of the album's strength, but it's a shortcoming as well: there's little in these songs to give you goosebumps. There are some standout moments, however, and many, if not most, of the tracks zero in on the brain's pleasure centers. "The Battle" pairs an elegant melody to trilling synths and wistful vocals, and "Square People" similarly layers plaintive, trumpet-esque blasts and synth-pop basslines over a shimmering backdrop. The vocals in "Days" spiral out over gently thumping toms and swooning low-end. Those moments, stirring as they may be, feel as if they're drifting through a barely conscious reverie, fading as they pass. With just a few more jolts, a few more unexpected twists and turns, Coolen and Scholte would have had something truly special on their hands. But even without them, Weval is a hushed delight.
  • Tracklist
      01. Intro 02. The Battle 03. I Don't Need It 04. Square People 05. Madness 06. Ways To Go 07. You're Mine 08. Days 09. Just In Case 10. You Made It (Part I) 11. You Made It (Part II) 12. Years To Build