by Welcome on FatCat RecordsReleased 20/11/2006
Hailing from Seattle, but arriving seemingly out of nowhere, Welcome are both distinct and familiar, at once drawing the listener in, and suggesting worlds of possibilities. An essentially traditional line-up of guitar, bass, drums, dual (often double-tracked) vocals, and a couple of guitars (admittedly augmented by some unconventional home made pedals and FX), they manage to wrench or coax new shapes at will. Formed over ten years ago, Welcome have taken their own time to find their voice, making allowances in their schedule to accomodate other bands, projects, and a lengthy hiatus, before returning with newfound focus. Having undergone several line-up changes, the band appearing on 'Sirs' comprises Jo Claxton (bass, vocals), Jon Treneff (drums), Pete Brand (guitar, vocals), and Mike Wurn (guitar).
Impulsively absorbing, subverting and recontextualising an alternative pop lineage peculiar to them, Welcome's sound is melodic, and rhythmically and sonically ambitious, their music sitting somewhere between the fractured, exploratory idealism of 60's psych pop (The Creation, Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, Revolver-era Beatles) and such non-conformist US alt-rock luminaries as Unwound, The Breeders, or Deerhoof. In fact this is barely the tip of the iceberg - their inspirations running from Kool Keith to Harry Pussy and beyond.
Unapologetically concise and direct, 'Sirs' carries an innocent, volatile air, balancing tension and weight with a broad spectrum of colour. Self-recorded in Pete's basement with the majority of the album put down first take, then tweaked and mixed over the following month, it's an immediate and immensely detailed recording that retains freshness and still has the ability to jolt and surprise many listens on. Lyrically cryptic but somehow eloquent, the band conjures uncertain, provocative imagery by combination of music, words and sheer gravity of intent - one critic described their sound as 'insightfully inarticulate and emotionally deafening'.
Dynamic, stunningly arranged, and prone to fly off at unpredicatable angles, 'Sirs' posseses a gnarled beauty very much Welcome's own; spiked shards of guitar offset against warm, bittersweet West Coast tinged melodies, underpinned by a driving, articulate rhythm section. At times cracked and claustrophobic, at others open, inviting or euphoric, Welcome cram more ideas into 'Sirs' brief time-span than many bands manage to purvey in their entire career.