Traditionally, a weather house might be used to forecast incoming weather, a loose prediction of sorts based on the humidity of the atmosphere. Predictability isn’t something that’s ever sat well with Radiohead, and it’s no surprise therefore that the second offering from Philip Selway’s solo project is a venture of untested creativity, creating an atmosphere entirely of its own.
Written in collaboration with Adem Ilhan and Quinta, previously members of Selway’s backing band, the influence of other musicians on this record is evident throughout. 2010’s debut ‘Familial’ felt very much like a solo record, a tentative, and in parts rather tame take on mellow acoustic-based folk. But where its predecessor lacked, ‘Weatherhouse’ gives off a strong sense of chemistry, with Selway’s musicianship pushed to its creative potential by those around him to create a sound which combines the hauntingly atmospheric with the poignantly delicate.
Portraying its darkest air from the outset, the hypnotic electronics that underpin ‘Coming Up For Air’ are an instant and effective indicator of Selway’s shifted perspective. With a vocal heavily drenched in reverb, it proves an apt title for an album opener that evokes a feeling of complete submergence. Whilst the understated vocals are befitting of tracks such as this and ‘Miles Away’, the Radiohead man manages to strike an impressive balance vocally, displaying an ever-growing confidence in his singing ability that sees his voice takes an assured lead where appropriate, most notably on ‘Ghosts’.
All of this is not to say that the acoustic-based foundations of ‘Familial’ have been completely abandoned on this follow up, but there’s an added dimension at play here. Owed to a great extent to orchestral elements that feature prominently throughout, familiar patterns such as the guitar on ‘Don’t Go Now’ are taken to a new level, one that transforms the simplistic in to something fantastically eerie and equally memorable.
Whilst work on Radiohead’s ninth album may soon become priority, the assurance with which this album has been constructed shows that this is no trivial side project. Selway has spoken of this work as an opportunity to revisit areas only touched upon while in the band, and the execution of this on ‘Weatherhouse’ has certified his status as an artist in his own right.