Monday, March 3, 2008
Cove - A Weather
Team Love Records.
SCQ Rating: 78%
Nothing will grab you about Cove if you’re not listening for it. There’s nothing particularly striking about Aaron Gerber or Sarah’s Winchester’s vocals either; his Sufjan-esque earnestness rarely wises above a mumble, whereas her voice could be just about anybody’s. Yet once you’ve heard the record four or five times (which isn’t hard to do, trust me), a chemistry between Gerber and Winchester ignites – one part subtlety, one part intimacy – that beefs up these songs; the way her voice hovers over his off-kilter, punctuating lyrics in ‘Pinky Toe’ or when they trade off lyrics, verse by verse, as in the power-pop of ‘Small Potatoes’. It’s when you let your guard down that these nine quiet songs creep up on you, leading to sudden stare-offs in parks or passenger seats.
The arrangements are most striking in their barrenness, focusing almost entirely on guitar, electric piano and the heavy thudding of Winchester’s drums. You’re never unaware of a sudden organ humming in the corner of your speaker (on ‘It’s Good to Know’), or an extra acoustic ruminating in the shadow of the other (the beautiful ‘Shirley Road Shirley’). Such stark recordings render every moment notable, and that these songs sport enough muscle to justify their expansive time-slots (most hovering around five minutes) says something for A Weather’s songwriting prowess. ‘Spiders, Snakes’ illustrates this patience-pays-off aesthetic perfectly, opening the disc with a painfully slow pound of a drum-beat, the vocals and keyboard shuffling within the confines of that percussive dirge, which is then temporarily set free by a chorus, featuring simple guitar and the duo letting their voices rise beyond a mesmerized chant.
This strict obedience to song structure would damn most quiet, emotively acoustic bands, and it’s an obstacle that A Weather don’t successfully clear on every song. ‘Pilot’s Arrow’ lacks any of the record’s tension, and because that strain is one of the band’s great strengths, the song is visibly weaker. There are other slight flaws but they’re hard to pinpoint, as if you’re ready to judge it before a chord changes and suddenly that flaw turns out to be right as rain. The folky, organic flow of Cove feels painted in greens and grays; ideal for approaching April, but because it’s all cut from the same palette, its lulls threaten to become dull more than once.
Regardless, this record is fresh, if not sonically than certainly lyrically. Gerber gives us romance from tiny moments, dissecting the sounds a lover makes in the night (‘Oh My Stars’) or daring a friend to leave her clothes on his bedroom floor. Sung plainly without poetry, Gerber’s daydreams illustrate these unassuming tunes with deeper resonance. Released tomorrow on Conor Oberst-associated Team Love Records, A Weather might be the moody breeze to carry us sensitive folk-sters into the Spring, or anyone still crying over American Analog Set breaking up.
Listen to A Weather here.