Philip Selway - Weatherhouse - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Philip Selway - Weatherhouse

by Justin Pearson Rating:5.5 Release Date:2014-10-06

So here we have the sophomore effort from Philip Selway, just around the same time Radiohead announce they're back in the studio and Thom Yorke drops his own second solo album, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes. It's hard not to be excited for this good news if you're a hardcore Radiohead fan, or even if you're just a passerby listener. In either case, you still gotta hear it and see what direction their music is going in, collectively or not.

Weatherhouse certainly isn't a bad album, but it feels kind of flat... Dare I say, even a little boring? I would, however, call it a step forward from his debut, Familial, but only by an inch. Even looked at on its own merit as a solo album, it's still mostly a shuffle with his feet never completely lifting off the ground.

The whole thing in general emits a sort of timidity, like the quiet kid in class who's afraid to raise his hand, but has a brilliant answer at the ready. Most of the songs here have a nice, easy structure with some interesting moments, but nothing to hook really you in. It's sort of like watching a balloon floating by that rises and falls a little, but stays basically on the same air-stream.

The bookends of the album, 'Coming Up for Air' and 'Turning It Inside Out', are the most promising tracks, the former kicking it off with a nice steady groove. It feels hopeful, especially as he sings "This is the place where I belong" and how he's "coming up for air." It sounds like a testament to the burial of the past and looking forward.

The latter track has droplets of percussion that sound like the remnants of a heavy precipitation in a hollow tunnel or drain somewhere. You can almost see the clouds part with the lines "Sometimes I could leave and disappear/ Wait for this all to pass, and for the air to clear." It seems to be about the breakdown of communication in a relationship, but owning up to it and moving on.

The meat of the album, the songs that are in between, oftentimes feel more like filler than any kind of changing, dynamic weather. Take 'Let it Go' for example. As he repeats "Let it go, let it go, now it's over" and then "I'm over it now, I'm over it now", it's hard not to internalize the same sentiment about the song. You wish it would put itself out of its misery as it drones on until the end.

'MIles Away' offers a decent, familiar kind of spaced out mellowness when he sings "Hey, you're miles away", followed by a wobbly guitar that's not too far off from the same effect at the beginning of Radiohead's 'Bones' from The Bends. It still isn't as strong as it could be though.

'Ghosts Listening' floats, but not in a numbing, dreamlike sense. It almost naps, or even sleeps, and it's easy to miss within an album which is like a fleeting ghost itself.

On 'It Will End in Tears', he's down to basics, with the piano and drums as familiar as on a Beatles tune, just not as memorable. "I hate goodbyes/ Don't be bitter now/ We could spend a lifetime in a Weatherhouse" seems like a familiar enough sentiment, but his delivery throughout teeters on the edge of corny.

There are some simple, pretty moments on 'Don't Go Now' and 'Drawn to the Light', but overall the gears don't shift too high. There's not really a sense of anything new happening on Weatherhouse, which is fine and all if you're looking for a well-played, easy listen. If the album is a representation of an actual weatherhouse, predicting the atmospheric changes in the air, then it's safe to say the prediction here is pleasant with little change in atmosphere.

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