ALBUM REVIEW: The Weather Station’s ‘Ignorance’ Is A Beautiful Whirlwind

The fifth record from the Tamara Lindeman-fronted outfit is utterly sublime, a new direction that the band hasn’t gone before.

Ignorance, Toronto musician Tamara Lindeman’s latest outing under The Weather Station moniker, begins with an undeniable air of cool, a jazzy groove with percussion that carries itself in the form of a creeping, sensuous slink. As the backing band — a truly grandiose blend that pulls in saxophone skronks, riffing organs, gleaming keys, brittle electric guitar, and dramatic strings — gradually builds steam, Lindeman’s magnetic voice stands in the center, commanding the storm around her with such remarkable effortlessness, even as her delivery finds itself morphing along with the music.

The song, “Robber,” is a brilliantly astute work of political commentary, sure (the “robber” of the song a metaphor, sharply indicting the imperialism and settler colonialism Lindeman benefits from as a non-Indigenous Canadian), but it’s also an extraordinarily ambitious showstopper, crescendoing into something that overwhelms in how purely revelatory it is in that remarkable final minute.

It is one hell of an introduction, and its relentless momentum is carried through for the rest of the record, which sees The Weather Station metamorphosing from an indie-folk singer-songwriter project into an honest-to-god art-pop group. Ignorance truly gleams with purpose, pairing existential dread with some of the best music that Lindeman has made in her impressive career.

What results are songs like the glimmering “Atlantic,” propelled by a skittering drumbeat and adorned with gently trilling flutes that float around the lush sonic landscape. While the song comes to grips with mortality amidst the climate crisis (“I should get all this dying off my mind/I should really know better than to read the headlines”), what shines through is the way Lindeman juxtaposes this dread with the natural beauty surrounding her, from the gorgeous hues of a sunset down to the smallest speck of green on a leaf.

This juxtaposition is deeply purposeful, and it animates all of Ignorance with a deeply profound sense of empathy. You hear it in how Lindeman addresses grief on the swirling-synth-driven “Loss,” and on “Tried To Tell You,” a song that — in her own words — is all about how it doesn’t do us any good to “turn away from things that we clearly deeply love.”

But it’s never clearer than on “Parking Lot,” a shimmering, piano-driven centerpiece adorned with strings that swirl around the racing percussion.

A self-admitted “love song for a bird” that Lindeman pauses to admire as it flies around a parking lot before her show, “Parking Lot” is an almost intangible experience, a moment that feels frozen in time even at its most kinetic. It is one of many of these moments on the album, where Lindeman pauses and zooms in to her subject, but “Parking Lot” feels profoundly different in a way I struggle to describe.

Clearly, Lindeman feels the same, approaching a loss of words over and over again, repeating the words “Oh it just kills me when I…” before trailing off as the instruments around her pick up in intensity, strings in crescendo, drums crashing forward. Eventually, the bird has flown away, but by then it doesn’t really even matter: the song lifts off, swirling upwards, as if it’s headed straight for the stratosphere.

Score: 🕊️🕊️🕊️🕊️.5/5