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Published: 2003/07/28
by Jonathan Sumber

Quebec – Ween

Sanctuary Records

The brothers Ween are back with Quebec, their eighth studio album and
first since parting ways with Elektra. Staying true to Ween form,
Quebec runs the gamut of styles, moods, and voices that fans have
come to expect. Stylistically, Ween albums play like bizarre mix tapes,
with each track taking one hard left turn after another (the exception of
course being 1996's maligned 12 Golden Country Greats). But much
like Phish, Ween are able to take stylistic disparity and boldly make it
work; instead of doing one thing and merely doing it well, Gene and Dean
piece together completely original musical landscapes. Phish and Ween are
also able to embrace their inner dork, and bring a sense of humor back to
music. Does anybody remember laughter?

Each Ween record stands primarily on the strength of its conviction. They
are so committed to each song, no matter how seemingly inane or weird it
might be, that it's nearly impossible to resist going along for the ride.
Quebec is their most accomplished album to date, because they have
remained faithful to the unusual signatures that send unadventurous
listeners packing, but now Ween has reached a new level of songcraft and
musicianship. This album is beautifully dark, dense with reverb and hidden
baroque accents, and just incredibly satisfying. The balls-out punk opener
"It's Gonna Be A Long Night" is a serious attention-grabber, but the
shredding quickly melts into "Among His Tribe", a lush and hushed acoustic
meditation. Dean's guitar presence has become a terribly overlooked force
in music today, and any guitar geeks should be thrilled with his beefy tones
and scorching solos on tunes like the Floydian ballad I Don't Want It.

By and large, Quebec is moody and less playful than previous efforts; a
direction that their last release, the addictive White Pepper,
clearly alluded to. Only the foppish "Fancy Pants" and bitingly hilarious
"Zoloft" nod to the irreverent side of Ween. "Happy Colored Marbles" is a
hypnotic highlight, as is the pounding mid-90's alt-rock revival of
"Transdermal Celebration." Ween is able to induce chuckling in one moment
and break your heart the next, like on the most stirring track "If You Could
Save Yourself (You'd Save Us All)."

Nobody can mimic and parody the Rock & Roll institutions better than Ween,
because they take the most tired clichand breathe freshness back into
them. An exemplary Ween tune such as "The Argus" starts out like a Dungeons
& Dragons battle between Rush and Led Zep, but then it explodes into
something entirely new. The same can be said for Ween's grand scheme;
they're often juicing the essence out of some fundamental artist or genre,
but it's always original, and sometimes even better.

This LP is the cherry on top of a completely unique, dud-less catalog. Ween
fans are going to be seeing brown over Quebec, and newbies are
encouraged to jump in and learn the language, because this is an incredible
place to start.

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