The Weather Station
How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars
Fat Possum · March 4, 2022
The Weather Station returns after their critically acclaimed 2021 release Ignorance with their subdued and stripped-back new album, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars. Almost every track on How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars is comprised of just piano and vocals. Ignorance was an album that featured grand and varied instrumentation on many tracks, so it’s interesting that The Weather Station chose to go this route. At some points, it works to the album’s favor, feeling very intimate and being able to express very raw emotions. At others, it tends to feel a little boring and flat compared to their prior work.
The album kicks off with what is probably the best track on the record, “Marsh,” which features naturalistic lyrics to pair with lush, beautiful piano chord progression. It’s made all the more engaging by the incredible production on this album. There is not a single moment on this album that does not sound incredibly crisp and clean, and there is not a single sound coming from that piano that cannot be heard in great detail. The same can be said for the following track, “Endless Time,” which also features an interesting, Americana-influenced vocal melody, and the almost theatrical “Taught,” which features a soft saxophone that seems to gently support the rest of the melodies within the track.
The rest of the record, however, doesn’t reach the same heights that the first three tracks do. There isn’t any material on this record that is wholly or completely offensive, and most of it is actually quite listenable. The problem is that, at some point, they all start to sound like variations on the same song. There are small changes from song to song, sure — “To Talk About” features a duet rather than just Tamara Linderman singing, although the male vocalist shows substantially less vocal talent on this track, and “Sleight of Hand” features some good backing vocals at points. However, the actual piano melodies and chord progressions are all pretty basic and similar to each other. If the vocals were completely removed from these tracks, it might be difficult to tell which ones are which. The vocal melodies, while definitely more distinct from each other, can be quite repetitive from track to track. This is especially apparent on tracks like “Stars” and “Ignorance,” which don’t feature many variations in the vocal melody for the duration of the track. This being said, I don’t necessarily think there are any individually bad tracks on this album — they’re just forgettable and a little mundane, which, sometimes, can be worse.
There is definitely artistic merit to How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars, and The Weather Station obviously had a very clear vision for this release. This is evident in the points on the album that really shine through with creativity and emotion, especially toward the front end of the record. Perhaps if they varied the instrumentation on some of the later tracks, or just more varied tempos or chord progressions, this album could have been a lot better. However, it seems as if the songwriting itself just isn’t up to par with previous The Weather Station releases.