In Adam Curtis’s recently released documentary series “Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World,” Curtis describes a world that has been damaged by the infection of individualism in our modern societies and how this infection has caused any real change to feel like an impossibility. Issues like climate change, corruption and alienation are almost innate, and there’s seemingly nothing that we can do about it.
In Ignorance, the new album from The Weather Station, each song also concerns itself with these modern anxieties. In 2021, we’re now realizing that our lives are becoming increasingly inhuman, and whether we fall into the established nihilism of our political structures is up for debate.
Fronted by Tamara Lindeman, The Weather Station group has been active for more than a decade. In the current era, where crises loom in our minds, Lindeman made her album about these pressing issues. “Robbers” is about those who steal and exploit, the über rich and colonization in general. The lines, “No, the robber don’t hate you, he had permission / Permission by words, permission of thanks / Permission by laws, permission of banks” are especially poignant.
“Atlantic” is directly about climate change: “‘My god,’ I thought / ‘My god, what a sunset’ / Blood red floods the Atlantic,” and then later: “Thinking I should get all this dying off of my mind / I should really know better than to read the headlines.”
Finally, “Separated” pulls this together with the topic of how technology actually is pulling us apart: “Separated by all the work we had to do / Separated by all the arguments you lose / Separated by all the things you thought you knew.”
Lindeman focuses on the hollow promises of our modern systems. The “race to the bottom,” a term for government deregulation, is in full force, and the purveyors of power no longer need to actually provide anything to rake in money from the people, which is all they want. Curtis’s documentary tells us how we got here; Lindeman’s words reflect the present.
Sonically, Lindeman’s album has a dream-like, stream-of-consciousness feel. Much like Destroyer’s 2010s output or albums like Montreal’s Paralytic Stalks or Julia Holter’s Have You in My Wilderness, Ignorance is lush with distant strings and continuous percussion to convey Lindeman’s messaging and musings in an incredibly digestible way. Her lyrics are direct and lock together seamlessly with her hooks and choruses.
Listeners will find a pleasant nostalgia for her NPR Tiny Desk Concerts, or, more broadly, the indie sounds that were most likely to appear on the channel around 2010 to 2014. The Weather Station’s sound is organic and dedicated to the canonized instrumentation of piano, drums and strings.
Together, with the songs that have themes of societal collapse and degradation, there’s a balance with more personal songs like “Trust,” “Heart” and “Loss.” To create a snapshot of a certain moment in time, it’s important to have those kinds of messages as well.
In “Heart,” she sings, “My dumb eyes turn toward beauty / Turn towards sky, renewing / My dumb touch is always reaching / For green, for soft, for yielding.” Lindeman finds herself digging deeper for something more important, something that has actual meaning, since it is no longer provided by the world around us. The myth is ours to make, for better or for worse.
Daily Arts writer Vivian Istomin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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