The most notable tendril of the Quasi root system might be Janet Weiss’s masterful drumming for Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag, but the band refuses to be reduced to that sole connection. Weiss’ partner in this project, Sam Coomes, contributed in both the folk-leaning The Donner Party and grunge hitters Heatmiser, as well as session work with everyone from Elliott Smith to Built to Spill. This is a duo now more than 20 years into their time together, and they’ve done a little bit of everything over that period of time. On their eighth album together, the massive, 24-song Mole City, Coomes and Weiss put a little bit of everything together at once.
Like a wad of bubblegum laced with speed, Mole City jumps around giddily from one crave-able, sugary sweet moment to the next, melodies sticking to the bottom of your shoe and following you around for days. The infectious, sing-songy “You Can Stay But You Gotta Go” is fueled by cannonball bass and grimy guitar. Weiss even breaks out a tinny tambourine and understated harmonies. “Fat Fanny Land” runs on Coomes’ piano rag, “R.I.P.” picks and scrapes on a minimal guitar line and Weiss’ charming vocals, and “Dust of the Sun” is a sweet retro pop song orbiting Neptune, out in the cold.
As one might expect from an album of this length, some tracks make a larger impact than others. The synth squiggles of “Chrome Duck” and the wobbly Western gallop of “One & Done” will sit near the bottom of Quasi’s catalog, but Mole City wouldn’t be a Quasi album without weird detours like these.
The bouncy stomp of “See You On Mars” goes a long way toward explaining the Quasi formula to an outsider: the song opens on a piano-driven Built to slacker riff-fest, only to transition abruptly to a White Album pop jam about “sailing on a slow boat to China.” And, of course, things finish on that cheesy, winking major chord splash, the gleeful cherry on top. On Mole City, Quasi embrace their scattered thoughts with a wink and a grin, and never let go.
Essential Tracks: “You Can Stay But You Gotta Go”, “Dust of the Sun”, and “See You On Mars”