Over the course of five years and four albums, 764-Hero has broken free from the confines its earliest fans had placed it in when they rhapsodized about the band as if it were the musical equivalent of a delicate, salt-weighted weave that threatened to shatter and shred at the slightest application of tension. The band's 1997 sophomore album, We're Solids, unleashed a new fury from the get-go with "Comb the Carpet," as singer John Atkins unmistakably stood with his songwriter's head thrown back in explosive declaration. We're Solids sounded as if the band was allowing itself to explore what debut Salt Sinks and Sugar Floats audibly shied away from, but songs like "Sunburnt" and "I'm Lying" still lacked unsheathed teeth.
Then, on 1998's Get Here and Stay, 764-HERO did something astounding: Instead of slamming the throttle down and plowing wildly ahead with jerky, combustive, and ultimately exhaustive rock, the band made a sharp right and headed into the direction of classic pop. The hard edges and raw emotions remained, but it was an alternately loping, then racing, shimmering, and elating buoyancy that dominated throughout with majestic grace.
The newly released Weekends of Sound shows that 764-HERO has, until the next album at least, found the perfect balance in a career that constantly leaps through its own--as well as perceived--boundaries. It's at times angry, dejected, unabashedly in love, and confused, but always wistfully beautiful and evocative. And, at all times, wonderfully in charge of its own genius. First track "Terrified of Flight" kicks with abandon, while much later on, the breathtaking "Something Else" with its spare verse, "October came too soon and I'm left wondering why it always dies," and chorus, "I believe and I don't believe," devastates in an entirely different way. The terrain-changes on the path between are equally disparate: The track-wide ominousness of "Out Like a Light" is grounded in a brief, oscillating piano run; title song "Weekends of Sound" is chilly too, but its rhythm-driven structure makes it inviting.