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The Weather Station
Ignorance Zara Hedderman , March 1st, 2021 08:45

From the end of the affair to the end of the world, The Weather Station's fifth album is rich and full, finds Zara Hedderman

Lounging in leafy surrounds, nature's hues resembling velvety Renaissance landscapes, Tamara Lindeman is camouflaged all but for her mirrored suit on the cover of The Weather Station’s fifth LP. Even before we press play on Ignorance, Lindeman’s ensemble is a declaration that she is, quite literally, in reflection. Having immersed herself in the calamities of the climate crisis, the Toronto-born songwriter uses that as an anchoring theme for ten pensively and poetically painted narratives. Here, no stone is left unturned in Lindeman’s deft ruminations on her relationship with the wider world and her place within it.

Opening with ‘Robber’, the record’s most intricately layered and intriguing arrangement, Lindeman expresses fatigue with capitalist-induced corruption. On our first taste of the sumptuous expansion of The Weather Station’s sound – now featuring two drummers, brass, strings, and synths – the sonic ambition on display is immediately arresting. Crawling like a cloud swollen with rain, the arrangement bears the weightiness of an imminent storm that will culminate in a thundering crash of cymbals. Its propulsive beat provides a steady base for the sinisterly intoned textures; sweeping strings and a slinky sax part reminiscent of Bowie’s Blackstar (an influence which remains intact on ‘Atlantic’). The song is a hallmark of the maturation in The Weather Station’s previously more folk-leaning compositions.

Musically, the tone and tempo seamlessly shifts across the tracklist. A cluster of 1970s California-tinged pop sensibilities casts a gloriously sunny disposition across ‘Tried to Tell You’ down to ‘Separated’. Heralding Fleetwood Mac’s buoyant hooks, these compositions are soaked with nostalgia brought to life via a bright smattering of piano, bumbling bass licks, and lush string parts to fill the spacious arrangements. Airy and accessible, Ignorance consistently delivers songs designed to fill a room with their communal spirit. For those coming to the group late, this serves as a wonderful entry-point as the subtle complexities present are enough to spark one’s curiosity to explore the remaining back-catalogue.

Countering the dominant carefree instrumentation, is the beautifully stark ‘Trust’. A simple stripped-back piano-led melody which sporadically resembles aspects of Aldous Harding. The most striking component to the composition – aside from lovely touches of electric organ and Lindeman’s cadence – is her explicitly raw lyricism. “Dim the lights and draw the curtains; this is the end of love,” she intones somberly. “Ready all your arguments; this is the end of trust. Send out all the witnesses; let nobody watch.” With no intimate details spared and the scene conscientiously set, it’s difficult to not immediately draw comparison to Leonard Cohen in how she draws the listener into her world.

Furthermore, Lindeman’s attention to detail is extraordinary. Every emblem of nature included is carefully chosen, from soaring shearwaters, crumpled petals and the “cold metallic scent of snow”. Everything is given its proper title or defining feature. Such remarkable specificity enhances the listener’s experience. Moreover, it feels as though Lindeman is acknowledging and appreciating how abundant the world can be. A world where scenes of cluttered car parks and views from intimate spaces are accented with yellow signs, pink clouds, gray gas stations, and blood red sunsets. These identifiable characteristics make the stories told all the more real because we can place ourselves in them.

While there are many masterful qualities to what Tamara Lindeman has created with this record, more of the introspective numbers such as ‘Trust’ and ‘Robber’ would have made for a more sonically rewarding body of work. Otherwise, this is a vivid and vibrant return.