The ponderous folk rock of Portland's Weinland will never be described as feel-good party music, but their third album, the aptly titled Breaks in the Sun, suggests the clouds are parting—slightly. To be sure, the album begins with the lyrics, "A sense of heartbreak all around/I can see it in this house," but the rest of opening track "Sunken Eyes" is graceful and balletic, and "Hardly Worth Saving" is jaunty and swinging, anchored by Paul Christensen's electric piano and Aaron Pomerantz's slide. The song's two-step is upbeat enough that you might even overlook the lyrics: "It's just the way it is/In this mess that I live/In a life that screams/Hardly worth saving."
Lead singer and main songwriter Adam Shearer explains, "The messages are somber, but that's the process. Once that shit's out of you, then it's not in you anymore and you enjoy the—well, for me anyway—the explosiveness of releasing that stuff, and playing music is really, really fun."
"People Like You" is the band's stab at a pop song, a breezy, compact tune with sunny harmonies. "Autumn Blood" is spearheaded by Ian Lyles' icy disco hi-hat, which builds toward the song's tumultuous, tense chorus.
Breaks in the Sun comes hot on the heels of last year's La Lamentor, a harrowing album that dealt with the difficulty of Shearer's work at a mental care facility. "I was in a really weird, weird place with La Lamentor," he says. "I was having to redefine everything and I was severing a lot of relationships. With this record, the music is still of a sincere and sometimes dark nature, because that's the kind of music that I write, but I feel like there is more hope. It's more about being honest and recognizing struggle, but not as much about being drowned by it—more like appreciating the life experience, and moving on from it."
This acceptance can be heard in one of the album's finest moments, "The Letters II," a sequel of sorts to a song that appeared on the first Weinland album. It's a delicately simple song about going through a box of old letters, adorned by steady acoustic guitar and trembling strings, while Shearer's whispered vocal trades melodic lines with Pomerantz's gilded Dobro.
Breaks in the Sun was written and recorded extremely quickly, a process that differed from the group's previously deliberate pace. As Shearer says, "The thing that we ran into was that if we didn't get things done fast, then we wouldn't be able to release it until fall. And we wanted to release it this spring. If this had been our first record, maybe we would have waited until the fall and put off touring, but we knew we wanted to tour all summer.
"We basically had a conversation in the van, and we were talking about all these sacrifices we have to make to play music and how badly we wanted to play music. And we just felt like, well, we're a small enough band that once our record isn't new, in order to get things rolling again we'll need to have a new record. And we were just like, fuck it, that's what they did 30 or 40 years ago. Because they would just pump out records so that they'd have fuel to keep going."