Hannah Selin, frontwoman and violist of art-rock band GADADU explains that her songs are “equally inspired by the natural and the supernatural.” The title of the art-rock band’s new album The Weatherman Is Wrong – streaming at Bandcamp – reflects both the unpredictability of Selin’s through-composed melodies as well as the world around us. It’s definitely an album for our time, even if the overall atmosphere is breathtakingly verdant and optimistic: the arrangements are nothing short of sumptuous. It’s as if Selin is saying, “Bring it on, we can handle it!”
The strings rises with a swirl and then echoes around in the album’s evocative opening track, Cicadas. Keyboardist Nicki Adams adds blippy loops as the horns – trumpeter Patrick Adams and tenor saxophonist Ayumi Ishito – enter regally over the sway of bassist Dan Stein and drummer Arthur Vint. “In our little house, the walls are slowly crumbling down,” Selin asserts brightly: the band take it out with an enigmatic wash that dissolves into reflecting-pool piano. Does this fit the zeitgeist, or what?
The second song, Bear is a catchy, tantalizingly brief anthem, bursting out of a delicate thicket of pizzicato: the gist of it is facing down one’s inner demons.
The elegant web of pulsing string, keyboard and horn textures in Dreamhouse are deliciously layered: the cyborg vocals and woozy synths in contrast to the organic, sun-drenched crescendos bring to mind the NYChillharmonic in a reflective moment.
Likewise, the harmonies between the electric piano and horns in the next cut, At Play: there’s reverie but also danger in the stabbing accents and enigmatic depths. Bright, tersely incisive piano stands out against a balmy backdrop in Makeup, descending to a more organic take on Radiohead minimalism before a sweeping, tidal return.
Vint plots out a circling Afrobeat groove as Selin’s voice soars upward with the horns in Ocean’s Children, then the harmonies pulse in and out over a series of rhythmic shifts, up to a dizzying chorale of sorts. There are echoes of slow, broodingly orchestrated Portishead in Tides, Selin floating an aptly vast, dynamically shifting expanse, the horns bursting over organ and electric piano that resist complete serenity.
The Xanthoria Quartet – violinists Abby Swidler, Kate Goddard and cellist Alexandra Jones – bolster the towering grandeur of Prove to You, a soul ballad at heart beneath the flurries and uneasy maze of concentric riffage. The album’s final cut is City of Lights: just when it seems this is going to be a warmly swaying soul tune, Nicki Adams pierces the veil with his alternately biting and sagely blues-infused piano. This is the band’s best album, one of the most beguiling releases of 2022 and reason to hope this allstar cast – all of whom have their own careers in new classical music, jazz and latin sounds – continue to weave fresh spells like these.