In 2013, Radiohead took a year off to pursue other projects and unwind. Drummer Philip Selway took the time to record his second solo record, the follow-up to his understated folk debut, 'Familial'. 'Weatherhouse' is a more textural work, and has a more collaborative nature, as Selway worked on his compositions with backing band Adem Ilhan and Quinta.
Tracks:Coming Up For Air Around Again Let It Go Miles Away Ghosts It Will End In Tears Don't Go Now Drawn To The Light Waiting For A Sign Turning It Inside Out
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It's not Radiohead if it's not paranoid, so drummer (we say that with a question mark, every time we broach the subject) Philip Selway had a head-start on trying to step out on his own. The dude sounded endlessly content and assuredly earnest on debut 'Familial', and even now, dressed in the dark sombre tones of 'Weatherhouse', where trepidation and electronica creep in with equal measure, he still sounds like he's in his living room. The light's definitely been turned off, though. On the opener to 'Weatherhouse', his inflections resolve brightly, while his lyrics only detail the happy conclusions that come from sustained trauma: "I'm coming up for air", he sings over twinkling guitars that light up the throbbing beats lingering throughout. It's as if he's reached the end point already.
Darker, more miasmic tones permeate 'Weatherhouse' at times, such as on the sparsely arranged "Miles Away", which focuses on percussion (oh my god! He totally plays drums for Radiohead! I think?), sulking synth and a razor-sharp sound effect that cuts the song in two. Ultimately though, even these songs feel removed from any actual repercussions, sounding like experimental demos Selway's been tinkering with rather than cathartic exercises. "Miles Away" fails to develop into anything resounding, but retains the kind of atmosphere you'd expect Selway to have mastered by now -- it's kind of 'Kid A' meets a badly produced Rifles album. "Ghosts" follows with a ghostly riff and uncanny vocal melody that evokes something off 'Hail To The Thief', but as always with Selway's solo work, it's the delicate guitar work that really leaves a mark. Less strings, please. Stop inventing tension.
Selway isn't that compelling when he's tinkering with electronic equipment -- it sounds like formality, considering the years he's had to compete with and take charge of machines for his band -- but is an admirable songsmith when he's given a guitar. It makes me wish I could hear tracks like "Don't Go Now" without the lush backdrops; they'd sound better fashioned after Nick Drake than neo-folk lite. There's a spectacular writer in Selway, but so far, we've only heard flourishes of him. I've heard he's a sick drummer, though.
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