Review of Weatherhouse Album by Philip Selway

As the least recognisable member of Radiohead, Phil Selway has managed to avoid the spotlight for a lot longer than his more prominent bandmates. Hidden away behind a drumkit, the serious sticksman was the heard, but rarely seen, heartbeat of the group - until recently. The world became a slightly better place the day Selway decided he'd have a go at making music of his own, releasing 'Familial' in 2010, and now 'Weatherhouse'.

Philip Selway Weatherhouse Album

First track 'Coming Up For Air' is startlingly Thom Yorke-like, with Selway's voice even taking on the frontman's trademark tired drawl above offbeat rhythms and ominous synths that could have been lifted straight from 'The King of Limbs'. Selway's solo debut was so beautifully personal, fragile and simple that to have shifted to this more alienated, vague world feels like a loss.

'Around Again' certainly captures the eye-prickling, faraway sadness of 'Amnesiac', but the vocals are crystal clear and hopeful, before we're right back in 'By Some Miracle' territory with the gently-picked acoustic lullaby 'Don't Go Now'. "Don't go now, stay close, be with me", he pleads in the drum-less track alongside wavering melodies. Similarly, on 'Drawn to the Light', the rhythm section consists of light glockenspiel taps bobbing under the same subdued, cinematic strings, allowing the delicate vocals to float through.

The politeness and earnestness that may have grated on Selway's debut hasn't been scrapped completely, but he certainly manages to sidestep the old clichés without moving out of the realm of the relatable. While 'Familial' was a frequently flawed foray into the Nick Drake vein of folk, its successor dabbles in the stark, lo-fi electronica - used to unsettling effect in the anxious midpoint 'Ghosts' and the euphoric 'Let It Go', which, with lyrics such as "I'm over it now", really should have been the final track.

'Weatherhouse' is an affecting listen, harking back to the same raw, emotional depths of angsty early Radiohead. Only, Selway's instinct for pouring tangible feelings into his lyrics and music is masterful and frequently heart-rending enough to set the bar high for any new releases from Radiohead - rumoured to be imminent - and stand for more than just a sabbatical. It's just a shame that this unpretentious, bittersweet gem won't receive anywhere near the same level of attention.


Lauren James

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