METZ Spinoff Weird Nightmare's 'Weird Nightmare' Sounds Like a Weird Nightmare
Published May 25, 2022Heavy distortion, blaring noisiness, fierce intensity — these are all words that one might use to describe a weird nightmare. They're certainly ones that make up Alex Edkins's new musical moniker and debut album, making it the debut solo project from the frontman of the Ottawa-born, Toronto-based punk band METZ. But unlike a real bad dream, Weird Nightmare isn't something that will have listeners running away or falling asleep. Edkins's 10-song tracklist is a fun, energetic and zany concoction of sounds and textures that recall his main band while simultaneously taking things in fresh directions.
From the very top of the album, Edkins makes it abundantly clear exactly who and what Weird Nightmare is: raw, rich and gritty, deftly capturing the heart and spirit of punk with simple yet impactful blasts of sound. It's something the project has in common with METZ, but this time, Edkins sought to set aside technicality, instead highlighting just how much fun he was having when writing and recording these songs. "Hooks and melody have always been a big part of my writing, but they really became the main focus this time," he said in a press release about his solo venture. "It was about doing what felt natural."
Opening track "Searching for You" reflects this, starting off with an upbeat bang and dropping listeners into their 'Toronto main character moment' as Edkins details wandering around College St. Following is "Nibs," taking an angrier turn with blown out and sluggish percussions and production, and "Lusitania," with a jubilant chorus that sounds like it would inspire a sing-along in a local pub. "Dream" features the album's distortion kicked up a notch, with fried and staticky guitars and ghostly vocals that are nearly indiscernible.
Other artists help flesh out Weird Nightmare's woozy atmosphere. Alicia Bognanno of Bully sings background vocals on the optimistic "Wrecked," and Canadian alt-pop musician Chad VanGaalen adds touches onto the dark and brooding "Oh No," which finds Edkins ominously chanting "You can't save your face now." The song "Dream" features the album's distortion kicked up a notch, with fried and staticky guitars and ghostly vocals that are nearly indiscernible.
This style of songwriting and production runs the risk of blurring together into one indistinguishable entity, with songs blurring together when consumed as a whole. Still, the energy never wanes, and Edkins sprinkles in a few stylistically different moments to surprise, like on the fingerpicked acoustic interlude "Zebra Dance" (featuring his son singing "Dance with the zebra, dance with the giraffe") and album closer "Holding Out," a nearly eight-minute slab of mellow shoegaze with dripping guitar chords like melting wax and grainy vocals that sound like they're being sung from a far distance.
If having fun and being free was what Edkins most wanted to come through on the recording of Weird Nightmare, he undoubtedly achieved it on his delightfully distorted and warped debut solo album. (Sub Pop)