Philip Selway changes his sound on second LP, ‘Weatherhouse’
WHEN a band has reached its peak (or its decline) members of the band will usually split off to delve into side or solo projects. With a few exceptions, it’s really only the singer and/or guitarist who really makes a name for themselves. Yet here we are, reviewing the new release from Radiohead drummer, Philip Selway. Making a splash (or more like a ripple), Selway’s 2010 solo debut Familial was a departure from the Radiohead sound to explore folky, acoustic sound. Weatherhouse doesn’t linger on this however, moving on (in a very Radiohead fashion) to explore new grounds of music.
Weatherhouse is much for of a group effort than Familial. Enlisting members of his backing band to accompany him in the studio, Selway has spoken about working as a collective again in a positive light. Unlike Familial, his latest release feels more fleshed out. String Quartets and Horn sections accompany Selway’s trademark rhythms and acoustic guitar work. Despite this exciting new direction, there are only really two tracks that grab the listener by the shoulders and shake them. Opening track ‘Coming Up For Air’ is a synth laden, big beat number which leaves Selway’s previous solo material far behind it. It’s a delight to listen to and exhibits diversity after the melancholy Familial. Then there is ‘It Will End In Tears’ which is much more reminiscent of Baroque Pop. The moving number features some of Selway’s most personal lyrics alongside an on/off drum beat.
Both of those tracks are excellent, however the rest of the album is slightly more downbeat. To call it filler would be unfair, but it does have a habit of blending into the background. They’re songs that require attention to be fully appreciated. Songs like ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Drawn to the Light’ which aren’t actually bad songs, yet can be glossed over if not given the proper setting to be listened to. Selway’s voice is not as erratic as that of his band mate, so doesn’t quite grab the attention of the listener by using falsetto and so on. When the you turn your attention towards the songs however, you will notice a pleasant layering of sounds, featuring an unusual array of instruments; a great development from his debut.
Unfortunately, in the wake of Radiohead rumours and Thom Yorke LPs, Weatherhouse may be overlooked. But it’s important not to class this release as a sign of things to come for Radiohead, or even anything to do with them. Selway’s records are a sign that he isn’t tied to his band’s sound, and even if Weatherhouse may not be the most gripping album, it is a pleasant, subdued, very personal release.
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