On 'Ignorance,' the Weather Station Finds the Music to Match Her Expansive Poetry
Published Feb 01, 2021Four songs into the Weather Station's shape-shifting Ignorance, Tamara Lindeman finds herself outside a club and looking to the blue: "I watched some bird fly up and land on the rooftop / Then up again into the sky / In and out of sight / Flying down again to land on the pavement." There's beauty and possibility in that nervous zig-zag, so cellular and plain and awake. There's an ache, too, in seeing it lift just out of reach: "You know it just kills me when I see some bird fly / It just kills me / And I don't know why."
The Irish writer Robert Lynd said, "In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence." Ignorance is a record in search of that silence. Across ten tracks of jazz-influenced, liquid-silver art rock, Lindeman grasps at the world thrumming just beyond our punishing screens and endless news cycles, beyond our emotional and physical walls. As she sings on "Parking Lot" after the bird has left her sight, "Everywhere we go there is an outside / Over all of these ceilings hangs a sky."
It's easier said than done. Ignorance is a document of trying to become, the sound of the journey rather than the stillness of the destination. On "Atlantic," Lindeman lies by the ocean, wine in hand, considering the sunset and the shearwaters reeling overhead. It's a dazzling moment, but she finds her head elsewhere: "I should get all this dying off my mind / I should really know better than to read the headlines / Does it matter if I know? / Why can't I just cover my eyes?" Even as waves crash and pink clouds mass on the cliffs, Lindeman can't escape the fear that it's all doomed.
The song's environmental anxiety is echoed in its skittering drums, oil-streak guitars, and flutes that dart and whirl like hummingbirds among blooming piano chords. Previous Weather Station records dealt in earthy, grounded textures, relying on Lindeman's words to create colour and depth. Inventive, lush, and propelled by taut rhythms and strings that gust like competing winds, Ignorance matches the subtle drama and sparkling intelligence of Lindeman's writing, exploding her music into opalescent shards.
The shattered-glass jazz of first single "Robber" opens the record like a warning shot, the kind of expansive capitalist critique that would collapse if tackled by a different sort of artist. In Lindeman's hands, these enormous ideas — environmental panic, capitalist exploitation, freedom, life, death, love — soften and settle into the human creases, free of clumsy dogma. She performs cutting examinations of society and self with the considered calm of a palm reader; her plea for wakefulness is at once individual and communal, molecular and seismic.
Over pulsing Wurlitzer and swinging strings, "Tried to Tell You" sees Lindeman begging a friend to open their heart to love, to spill their guts regardless of reciprocity or embarrassment, declaring that she "will not help you not to feel / To tell yourself it was not real / And only fools believe." On "Heart," she asserts her own commitment to this righteous honesty: "There are many things you may ask of me / But don't ask me for indifference / Don't come to me for distance." Of course, in Lindeman's world, things are never so simple and people rarely so sure. As she drives away from a relationship for the last time on tidal closer "Subdivisions," a pearl of doubt turns in her mind: "But what if I misjudged? / In the wildest of emotion / I took this way too far."
That crucial mutation of certainty and hesitation is best expressed in the simple, glowing chorus of "Loss." As keys squeal like exposed wires and voices encircle her, Lindeman repeats a mantra: "Loss is loss / Is loss / Is loss." In her hopeful, reaching delivery, another meaning begins to form: the wonderment of love is that it endures regardless of whether you fuck it up or leave it behind, whether it's shared or understood. Loss is loss, but it's discovery too.
In a newsletter to fans released last year, Lindeman wrote about her late introduction to the work of legendary filmmaker Agnès Varda. In Varda, Lindeman describes an artist who creates free of machismo and demolishing ego: "Through the lens of her camera, everything is expanded, changed, renewed. Her filmic gaze is almost always one of restoration and generosity. How rare is this!" Varda herself once said that her aim was never to show, but to "give people the desire the see." Lindeman's songs move much like Varda's lens — rather than a guidebook, they provide a kaleidoscope. Ignorance suggests a new way to see the world, asking only that you release yourself to wildness and feeling, to the unanswerable questions and the world beyond yourself. It's all there — in the shifting clouds and the upward spiral of birds, in the opening flowers and the weeds that overtake them — just waiting to be found. (Next Door)