There is such a thing as sounding too immaculate. Beyonce’s recent collaboration with Hans Zimmer for The Lion King remake is merely another example of overproduction in contemporary music, but sterility hurts even more when it manages to infiltrate artists outside of the inflated pop scene. When Vampire Weekend released Father of the Bride back in May, I wrote that ‘these songs wouldn’t feel out of place in an advert for Google, such is the clinical nature of their formation’, and I could apply this exact sentiment to Weather too. It is recorded, mixed and produced exquisitely, yet I can’t recall a single release in 2019 that has proven to be so inconsequential. I don’t dislike the music at all, but it’s so severely sterile.
Weather is the first Tycho album to feature vocals. Whilst Saint Sinner is a very competent singer, her airy vocal inclusions only add to my apathy. Dive and Awake were effective because they captured scenes through the colour of their instrumentals, which is a difficult task in itself. When Saint Sinner’s vocals take centre stage — which is the vast majority of the 30-minute run time — the album feels ordinary, isolated, and understated to a fault. I’d recommend the three instrumental cuts to any fan of lush electronic music. Outside of that, there’s nothing of note to see here.5 10
Favourite tracks // Into the Woods
There’s easy listening, and then there’s something like Weather. This is ambient Muzak. For all its smoothness and gentleness it barely leaves any impression at all. I’d tuned out so much by the end of the first listen that I didn’t realise the album was over for a good few minutes. It’s a real shame too, because I wouldn’t call anything on the album ‘bad’. It just isn’t all that good either.
There are the makings of a good album here, maybe even a really good album. The production is clean and the arrangements aren’t a million miles away being Air-like. I really like the opener, “Easy”. It has drive and fuzz and all that good stuff. But it fades fast after that. A pleasant aura only counts for so much when the tracks drift as much as they do on Weather. Warm, cuddly production is all well and good, but not when it rounds the corners of something lacking edge to begin with.
I can’t say I’m crazy about the vocals either. Thin, wispy vocals only reenforce the sense that nothing’s really happening. To be utterly unfair to Tycho — listen to David Bowie’s Low. Side B of that record is as fuzzy as fuzzy comes, but Bowie’s vocals are anything but. They’re a superb counterbalance. Does Weather need to do the same to succeed? Of course not. But it does all sound a bit safe, and I look for more than things than a bit safe.6 10
Favourite tracks // Easy
Into the Woods
Weather suffers a similar fate to other albums that have arrived in 2019. Wispy and delicate, it tends to float by without much consequence, which is a shame given the overall atmosphere Tycho has produced here.
The kicker here is that Tycho’s instrumental style stands largely unchanged from his previous material. It’s lightweight, warming electronica, mixing gentle guitar, smooth synths and a solid dollop of reverb. The difference here is the addition of Saint Sinner’s vocal. Airy and fragile, they would seem a perfect match with Tycho’s style, but it feels as though they inhibit, not augment, the weight and development that was required to hold up his entirely instrumental albums that came before. Instead, Weather allows its vocals to take centre stage and leaves instrumentals to sit into a less exploratory groove.
However, there are morsels of interest here, the weightier rhythm section on “For How Long” is refreshing alongside a tracklist that generally packs less punch. “Pink & Blue” has an energetic instrumental that does at least have some scope to develop, showing the best of vocals complementing the instrumental rather than sitting upon it. “Into The Woods” and the title track also feel like highlights and, not surprisingly, are both instrumental tracks that see some evolution in their instrumental as they progress.
Just shy of half an hour, this album doesn’t get going before it’s gone either. The tail end of the record has some promise of a step change before it promptly peters out and what fills the majority of the album is quite forgettable. I don’t think it’s the biggest sinner of the year, but it certainly sits alongside releases so smooth they slip away without much in the way of memorable moments.5 10
Favourite tracks // Pink & Blue