The Weather Station
2021 • FOLK/ROCK • FAT POSSUM
BEST NEW MUSIC
On her fifth studio album under the name The Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman takes her biggest and boldest step, delivering the best compositions of her career alongside beautiful melodies that preach the calm of nature.
The cover of the fifth studio album by Toronto singer Tamara Lindeman under the name The Weather Station invokes the Renaissance. In it, we can see the 30-something singer lying, supported by her hands in a mirror outfit. The background is composed of a morbid sky, the trees in total darkness, and only a piece of vegetation can be seen. Furthermore, just as occurred in the transition from Medieval Art to the Renaissance, Ignorance is more refined than its predecessors, with more precise, sharp, and detailed lines, with darker and hopeless touches. However, the big difference between Lindeman’s latest work and the renaissance works is the role of the human being: in the 15th century it was the center of the world and the inspiration, here it is the villain and the reason everything is going wrong.
It is undeniable that throughout her first four albums, Tamara has been evolving more and more her sound and writing. She transacted from the turbulent dust of amateur indie/folk to albums that were born out of big, strong rock walls, which were formed by a production that was getting more detailed and more and more exciting every day. However, she has never taken such a big step as what she takes to reach Ignorance. The album is filled with the best compositions that Lindeman has written to date — all seem to come out of a kind of old and dusty book about the future where mystical tales blend easily with reality. Together with this, the production of the record is even more meticulous, mixing vintage synthesizers, pianos, cinematic strings, and Tamara’s voice — which sings about politics, society, psychology, and love — until reaching a homogeneous point. In other words, it’s almost as if you’ve opened an old book in search of answers. Everything seems to sound and look sepia and you won’t like the answers, but she doesn’t care.
Ignorance is a curious and striking title. It is a short and usual word, but here it seems to transcend its meaning. And in fact, it does that. When Tamara chose this title she was thinking of the good meaning, the one related to naive ignorance and not that intentional one. The opener, “Robber,” manages to show this perfectly. The challenging track with jazz influences prolongs its introduction by one minute. In that time, the instruments are introduced, but at no time does the song seem concerned with creating tension but rather an experience that walks the line between uncomfortable and comfortable. In a minute, Tamara appears with her voice, which is almost always easy to forget thanks to her morbid tones. She is perceptive and creates an intelligent metaphor about the problems of capital and the occupations of indigenous lands. At first, she is oppressed (“I never believed in the robber/I never saw nobody climb over my fence”), but then she becomes a dictator of liberating rules (“Hold open the gates for the want with lust”). She never sounded so challenging to us, to the world that she lives in, and to her own folklore.
Thus, it is impossible not to say that Ignorance‘s strongest point is its composition. Lindeman not only sounds more mature than ever but also more imagery, honest, challenging, and impatient. “Parking Lot” is one of the strongest. She paints herself standing in a parking lot watching the movements of a bird. In the beginning, you already realize that the track is much more than a faithful account, but a metaphor. At first, everything seems to be about not having the freedom and omnipresence of birds. But then, you realize that everything gets more intense, working on understanding your role in the world, sadness, and loneliness. However, much more than a passing metaphor, the relations established in Ignorance are for a lifetime. Notice “Separated,” where she criticizes how shallow and unstable human relationships are, which are now maintained over the internet. We will hardly be able to abandon this model. Or even, the sad ballad “Trust” that questions the end of humanity’s love and trust. A difficult truth that she is not worried about not telling you.
However, despite the darkness that Ignorance carries, the album does not always sound bleak, despite always hitting on these keys of hopelessness. In the fluid and entertaining “Tried to Tell You,” for example, Lindeman is singing about the lack of humanity while a guitar, synthesizers, and a low drum create a very smooth and calming beat. Likewise, we can also mention “Separated,” which sounds like one of the most catchy tracks on the album, with a striking and catchy hook accompanied by strong use of synthesizers. Finally, “Heart,” despite carrying the most confusing and purposeless lyrics on the album, sounds very free and carries that feeling of liberation, especially when she sings, “Don’t ask me for indifference/Don’t come to me for distance.”
Ignorance, however, did not remain firm and revealing in its lyrics but also in its sound. The album was co-produced by Marcus Paquin, and in addition to carrying the most cinematic strings and the most fearless drums that The Weather Station has shown, it also features the most significant and experimental synthesizers, which seem to finally close Tamara’s sound package. In “Separated,” near the end of the song, we can hear high-pitched synthesizers reminiscent of Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love. On the other hand, “Wear” counts with the best progression of the album, counting on an unlimited crescendo that seems with each second it will become more and more strong. In general, it is possible to comment on all the instrumentation of the album. Whether in simpler moments, like romantic and sad serenades, or in more daring moments, everything sounds very refined, sharp, and well finished.
Unfortunately, Ignorance has monotonicity as its biggest villain. Although the album has all these positive points, throughout the album we can feel that we are never going to a different place than we are. Perhaps, more noticeable synthesizer touches or even more intense moments on instrumental bridges and choruses could have created necessary variations in the mood of the album. Finally, some tracks seem to be simply disappointing. While “Atlantic” seems to create a metaphor too complicated at times, which ends up overshadowing the root meaning of the song and creating a gap of interest; “Loss” is just forgettable. The album ends with the smooth “Subdivisions,” where she really seems to say goodbye. On the bottom line, she sings, “In the wildest of emotion/Did I take this way too far?” You are still lost in her universe when she sings it.