the inside track

The Weather Station’s ‘Robber’ Is Unshakable

Photo: The Weather Station/YouTube

Tamara Lindeman has a voice that begs to be heard: delicate but steady, a breeze that can build toward a gale when the situation demands it. On her latest album as the Weather Station, Ignorance, the Canadian actress turned singer-songwriter puts that voice behind her most urgent message yet. It’s an album-length statement about climate anxiety — not only the rising temperatures that inspired the album but also the feeling of being a human witness to a problem much, much bigger than yourself. It’s not quite a concept album either; Lindeman also sings about broader issues both political and personal alike. But warming centers the project from its opening track, “Robber,” an arresting indictment of systemic issues that sets the tone for the entire album to follow.

From the start, “Robber” sounds nothing like the Weather Station, known up to this point as a folk project. Lindeman and her ever-changing band had grown progressively louder over the years, but Ignorance is a leap, more percussive and electric than ever before. This new Weather Station draws on the precision of jazz, the groove of disco, and the bigness of musical collectives like fellow Canadians U.S. Girls. On “Robber,” this new sound is eerie and unsettling. The strings could swallow the song at any second; the bursts of guitar and saxophone sneak up without warning.

That new sound makes the first line just as unnerving: “I never believed in the robber.” Not because the robber is made up, Lindeman goes on to sing, but because he’s been moving in the background the whole time. He personifies the greed that drives colonization, capitalism, and climate change — a lyrical flair that could easily devolve into melodrama, but not in Lindeman’s hands. The song isn’t about the robber himself as much as it is about his relationship to the world. As the song moves, she reveals how society aided and abetted him: “It was all done real carefully,” she sings in one damning line. Yet the song is equally about Lindeman, who admitted on her current press cycle that she didn’t pay much attention to climate change before a 2018 report on the dramatic impacts of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. “When I was young, I learned how to make love to the robber,” she sings in the final verse. As she continues, it’s hard not to contemplate your own relationship with the robber: how you lived with him, benefited from him, and even helped him.

At its core, Ignorance is an album about Lindeman wrestling with those same complex feelings. “Why can’t I just cover my eyes?” she asks on a later song. “It does not matter to the world if I embody it,” she declares on another. “It could not matter less that I wanted to be a part of it.” The album is far from prescriptive, but it doesn’t need to be; after that first song, the robber lurks in the background of everything else Lindeman sings. And once it’s over, the image remains, an unshakable reminder of the stakes guiding Lindeman’s work.

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The Weather Station’s ‘Robber’ Is Unshakable