Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Everyday Balloons - A Weather
Team Love Records.
SCQ Rating: 82%
Despite featuring three brilliant stand-alone tracks, Cove narrowly missed landing on Skeleton Crew Quarterly’s Top Twenty Albums of 2008. It was a contentious decision for both sides of my evaluation protocol; the listener who’d let A Weather slide into his personal slipstream all year cried for a recount while the objective voice reasoned with several exhibits’ worth of tighter records. Alas, even two years on, Cove is an easier album to live and empathize with than to hype and pamphleteer over. What felt slightly undercooked between expertly arranged ballads like ‘Shirley Road Shirley’ or ‘Oh My Stars’ were the defeated odes that weren’t a drag so much as a light humming beneath our alertness.
Cove’s humble force – tender songwriting with understated arrangements – shines more brightly on Everyday Balloons, a sophomore that expands the group’s emotional reach without ringing false to their casually low-key approach. Even at their staunchly modest core, A Weather convey grander ideas at a sneaky pace; both ‘Third Of Life’, with its punchier electric chords, and ‘Newfallen’, a lounge-y track that sounds surprisingly like early Jens Lekman, hint at these bolder directions. Beyond laying clues to more effusive songwriting, vocalists Aaron Gerber and Sarah Winchester get full-on extroverted with ‘Winded’, a lighthearted piano jaunt that resonates at the chorus, and ‘Giant Stairs’, which subtly brings out a post-grunge shuffle not unlike cult-faves The Rentals. As with Cove, these sweeping compositions overshadow a few quieter ruminations that prefer close listening. ‘Seven Blankets’ is a deservedly narcoleptic display of dulled guitar tones and sleepy percussion; if you’re a fan of A Weather, you’ll fall right into it.
Few things are as comforting as A Weather sounding perfectly at home with their craft and, despite the aforementioned songwriting upgrades, Everyday Balloons works best picking up where Cove left off. The melancholic folk of ‘No Big Hope’ is eternalized by Gerber and Winchester’s soft vocal-collisions whereas ‘Lay Me Down’ builds from a stationary vision into a percolating, imperative rock number. Like an old friend, it’s wonderful to have A Weather back; they’ve gone traveling, they’ve gathered some touching stories to share, but when you sit down with them, they’re the same promising band you last visited with.