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Quebec | Review

“An ideal entry point to the Ween rabbit hole”

By James Wilson

Rating: 4/5


Alex Cheek on Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

It's hard to know exactly what you’re going to get with a Ween album. Oftentimes, it can feel as though their work is largely constructed as an in-joke between the duo that you’re never quite made a part of.


One moment you find yourself genuinely enthralled by a track, finally feeling as though you get it, that you’re actually “in” on what they’re doing, only for you to notice that the next song in the queue is called ‘Waving My D*** In The Wind.’


At times, their music can feel almost impenetrable to a more casual listener, and in some ways, Quebec is no different, interspersed with their characteristic schoolroom humour and seemingly pointless randomness.

However, it is equally filled with some truly powerful, moving elements, and it is within the latter that this album shines.

The first three tracks on the record are a perfect example of this kind of unpredictability, opening with ‘It’s Gonna Be A Long Night’, a song with a fast-paced, energetic vigour reminiscent of Motörhead-esque metal. It is outwardly upbeat, but the lyrics betray an ulterior meaning, telling the story of a violent and chaotic drug-fuelled binge. This song is followed by ‘Zoloft’, a soothing, spacey tune with echoey, wailing vocals uplifted by gleaming, psychedelic synths.


The third track, ‘Transdermal Celebration’, is an even more blinding diversion. Easily (in my opinion) the best song on the whole album, it is a profound and genuinely moving rock anthem that defies previous expectations entirely. It’s here that the album's overall tone seems to stem from, hence an oftentimes sombre, and even more surprisingly serious record.

This uncharacteristically sincere addition to their discography makes more sense upon learning about the circumstances in which the album was made.

The band's drummer, Claude Coleman Jr, had recently been in a near-fatal car crash, and as a result was absent from much of the recording process. Ween's two core members were also experiencing personal hardships, with Michael Melchiondo, better known as “Dean Ween” stating that the time in which the album was being made was “not a great period in our personal lives”, and that he was “partying way too hard.” Aaron Freeman, better known as “Gene Ween” was going through a divorce at the time, the impact of this event being expressed in the song ‘I Don’t Want It’, which carries all the wistful melancholy of such a circumstance, as well as in the contemplative and toned-down ‘Tried and True.’


There are still some seemingly facile tracks to be found in the album, which few but the biggest diehard Ween fans would ever be likely to replay, but the album's high points are well worth revisiting. It’s by far my favourite album of theirs and is likely the best starting point for any newcomers to their music.

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Quintan Barnes
Quintan Barnes
6월 05일

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