Most EPs that follow a successful debut album are tough to pin down. They're sometimes harbingers of stylistic change, opportunities for experimentation -- and oftentimes just a few throwaway tracks from past recording sessions tossed out as chum for a hungry audience anxiously awaiting a follow-up. Weekend’s Red EP might be all three.

Sports, Weekend’s well-received debut for Slumberland, was an album full of propulsive, deceptively catchy songs buried under a blizzard of foreboding fuzz and squall. With an innocuous name -- and an equally innocuous album title -- paired with vague, monochrome cover art, Sports suggested that Weekend didn’t really want to be figured out. For those looking for answers, the Red EP only begs more questions.

The most pronounced difference between Sports and Red are the latter's relatively clean vocals. On Sports, singer Shaun Durkan’s vocals were ominous and mostly just part of the overall wave of sound; on Red they’re higher in the mix, and just barely decipherable (even if most of the lyrics on Red don’t really beg to be deciphered). At times, Weekend seem as though they're edging towards being a “pop” band. Nowhere is this more clear than on “Hazel”, which finds the band sounding more similar to shoegazey pop-peddling tour mates the Pains of Being Pure at Heart than commonly cited influences like Joy Division, the Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. “Hazel” is unabashedly a pop song, even if it’s not completely devoid of Kevin Johnson’s signature crashing, echoey guitars. When Durkan intones “Eyes like mine/ Hazel/ Like mine,” like a mantra over a descending bass line and shimmering guitars, you can pretty much hear every girl in earshot’s heart beating a little faster. If this isn’t dream pop, it’s got to at least be nightmare pop.  

For fans of the abrasive, white noise-laden moments on Sports, Red might seem like a step in the wrong direction, but there's still plenty of aggressive, morose energy to be heard on this EP. In fact, a majority of the record is marked by foreboding drum beats and crushing downtempo guitars. Album closer “Golfers” is a fitting transition between the band's old and new sound. Although they’ve given listeners a taste of their almost-danceable, energetic side with “Hazel” and “The One You Want”, “Golfers” opens with a gloomy guitar compressed into the realm of utter distortion. The song opens up in the middle with those now-familiar gleaming guitar lines and driving drums, only to fade off into bit-crushed nothingness. Combining all their tricks together in the EP's last song seems like a bit of a symbolic gesture -- one that leaves Weekend open to do pretty much whatever they want with their next album. One thing’s for certain: they're a band that will be hard to ignore in the coming years. If their dark side didn’t reel you in, they’ve shown that they’re willing to lighten up (if only just a little) to bring more potential listeners into the fold.