Michael Hann

Reminiscent of Roxy Music’s cocktail sound: The Weather Station reviewed

Plus: William Doyle’s fate is one of the sadnesses of the streaming age

A significant talent: Tamara Lindeman of the Weather Station performing at Revolution Recording Studios, Toronto

One of the unforeseen consequences of the rise of streaming was a change in the very structure of the pop song. Listeners who needed only to click a button to explore an unfathomable amount of music rapidly lost patience. They were less willing to listen to long songs; they were less willing to wait for songs to develop, even over the course of three minutes; they liked songs that sounded the same as other songs they were familiar with. And so, over the past decade or so, pop has adopted a formula: songs now tend to open with a huge hook, then throw more hooks on top of that, and then — because a small cadre of songwriters and producers are viewed as safe hands — they get remade in barely different forms again and again.

Perhaps that explains some of the gratitude with which critics have fallen on Tamara Lindeman, who records as the Weather Station, and William Doyle (who used to record as East India Youth but now works under his own name). It’s not that they aren’t good — both, especially Lindeman, are very good — but one would be hard pressed to locate anything they do that is especially new on the albums they promoted on their live-streamed shows.

While William Doyle would have been a staple of John Peel, the Weather Station is more Paul Gambaccini

The Weather Station’s Ignorance is beautifully played and arranged soft rock, whose concession to newness is its lyrical focus on the climate crisis; Doyle’s new album, Great Spans of Muddy Time, is electronic art-pop. You might well have heard both on the radio in 1983, though Doyle would have been a staple of John Peel and the Weather Station would more likely have been popping up on Paul Gambaccini.

The very best of the Weather Station is a little reminiscent of the style Roxy Music perfected at the start of the 1980s, where the bass plays root notes that anchor the song, and other instruments waft sprays of instrumental perfume over the top: a dash of guitar here, a haze of piano there.

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