There may not be anything more 2021 than an artist centering an album around climate change, and there may be no better artist to do it than Tamara Lindeman, who records as The Weather Station. Ignorance is the follow-up to 2017’s self-titled album, which began scratching at the surface of similar themes: humanity, our role and complicity in the planet’s demise, and the apocalyptic nature of growing up in a world content with its own destruction. Ignorance also finds Lindeman continuing her exploration of the sonic terrain of the last record. Driving percussion and melodies you can dance to envelop Lindeman’s deep, dark meditations on loss and grief, heartbreak and vulnerability.
The Weather Station’s gradual progression toward a pop-rock sound from the quiet, earthy folk of earlier albums has provided a new entry point to Lindeman’s poetic lyricism. When the words are brooding but the arrangements are shimmery, we’re intoxicated, almost given permission to dance away our existential dread. Amidst the simmering drums of “Atlantic,” Lindeman sings softly, “I should get all this dying off my mind / I should really know better than to read the headlines.” The sparkling keyboard notes of “Parking Lot” soundtrack Lindeman watching the intimate movements of a bird contrasted with traffic and noise: “You know it just kills me when I / See some bird fly / It just kills me / And I don’t know why.” The former two songs are part of a group of standouts right in the middle of Ignorance, which also includes the sweeping, emotional “Loss” and the heart-pounding “Separated.” And then there is “Tried to Tell You,” about the often-futile effort of trying to save someone from their self. “I’ll feel as useless as a tree in a city park / Standing as a symbol of what we have blown apart,” she sings before blasting into a full orchestral, breathy falsetto of a chorus. It is an addicting blend of unrelenting melancholy and a throbbing beat.
The addition of elements like synth, strings, and wind instruments elevate and etherealize Ignorance. But mostly, it is Lindeman’s vocal tone that can express every ounce of fear and uncertainty in her, unmuddied and pure. The album’s final entry, “Subdivisions,” pairs it with a minimal arrangement of piano, bass, and keys before it builds to something greater. “In the wildest of emotion / I took this way too far / The highway disembodied from the rest of my experience / A narrow band of ice that stretched across the disappearance of the central plan / The guiding hand / The keeping up appearance of a life,” she sings, like a prophet offering some foreboding manifesto on the meaningless of it all.