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After releasing a thoroughly impressive debut album that had enough whirling noise, ferocious energy, and shards of feedback to single-handedly relaunch noise pop/rock, Weekend’s second major release, 2011's Red EP, focuses more on the subdued textures and graceful melodies that occasionally surfaced on Sports like swimmers bobbing on faraway waves. The band scales back the noise attack in favor of a nuanced approach that gives Shaun Durkan a more prominent role and balances the noise with more atmospheric dynamics. They haven’t forsaken the overloaded sound entirely; it still bubbles below the surface and creeps into even the poppiest moments. Call it a welcome progression and a deepening of their sonic impact, not any kind of slick move toward the indie rock mainstream. Writing hooky, catchy songs and dipping them in abrasive, gloomy noise is almost always a winning formula anyway, perhaps just a little more pleasing than the hazy distance the first album created so successfully. Red’s songs are super-catchy, too. "Hazel" is their most radio-friendly moment, riding a singalong chorus and Durkin’s sweetly sung vocals to an almost happy conclusion; most of the other tracks aren’t far behind in the easy-to-swallow hook department. Only the closing "Golfers" has the sprawlingly claustrophobic feel of a track on Sports, but even then it has a lightness and pop appeal that are very, well, appealing. Red is a strong step forward for a very promising band that arrived with an intriguing voice already established and has now made it even richer and more interesting.

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