Wieuca - Guilt Complex

by Jon Burke Rating:9 Release Date:2017-07-14

Sometimes a record is so fresh it catches a listener completely off-guard. The experience can be incredibly invigorating, like a cold shower or first kiss. Guilt Complex, the latest record by Athens, GA rockers, Wieuca, is one such album–it bursts wide open with a stunning, occasionally discordant, psychedelic whirlwind called “Snitches Get Stitches” and only gets better from there. One would be hard-pressed to put a genre label on Wieuca but their essence is a guitar-driven, lo-fi, indie rock with nods to Guided By Voices, Built to Spill and Galaxie 500. That said funk, country rock, post-punk and some interesting experiments in fields of keyboards set-atop droning guitars are also at play throughout Guilt Complex. It all amounts to one of the best albums of 2017 and makes Wieuca a band to watch.

While none of the songs on Guilt Complex are over six minutes, a number of the tracks expand well over the five minute mark and allow Wieuca to really stretch out. Unconstrained by genre they add unexpected flourishes in layer after layer of sonic strata. The result turns out to be a song like “Atrium” which begins with a funk-infused bassline to which a hustling, cymbal-heavy, rhythm is added. Initially the guitar sounds are clean and almost tropical but then Wieuca adds a little harmonic riff that seems like a direct reference to Big Black. Somehow this all works to great effect to create a completely unique sound. From there Wieuca subtly shows off their range in a series of songs with disparate influences. The back end of Guilt Complex is like a love letter to every sub genre of independent music that ever influenced the band. 

“Building A Shrine” would fit perfectly onto a Drive By Truckers album. The song’s essentially a slow country jam with lyrics about regret and loss and pedal steel flourishes backing up what turns out to be a truly anthemic bar song.  The next track, “Broke” takes more cues from Ohio’s Guided By Voices than anything south of the Mason Dixon line. “Broke” is followed by “Gas Giant” – a track centered around thunderous drums, keyboard and distortion experiments and heavy bass which results in a bizarre experimental dirge with nary a guitar to be heard. “Cold Beach” is an indescribable instrumental piece with a bizarre chugging distorted guitar sound over a bouncing bassline. “No Good” is pure garage rock punk fury and aggression right up to the sneering vocals and lo-fi production which seems designed to make the gorgeous shoegaze, dream pop of the next track, “Polyp,” oddly amusing. The joke becomes even funnier when the track's spiraling conclusion features a plucked banjo solo.  

Guilt Complex is a showcase not only for Wieuca’s range but also for their song craft. Lyrically the album seems to focus on personal growth and evolution. And it is precisely that growth and evolution that makes me so excited for whatever Wiecua does next. It’s honestly going to be challenging to wait for their next record. In the interim however you will find me happily pouring over the incredibly dense and sonically pleasurable Guilt Complex.

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