GADADU - The Weatherman is Wrong
To deem GADADU “unorthodox” would be to only chink at the surface of a technicolored powder keg. This New York-based group is a boiled onion, sonically caramelized in its multi-layered approach, and unafraid to breathe outside the lines of genre niching. Relying on synths, horns and drums, the sextet boast “odd meter grooves” and “synth-spiked orchestral arrangements” on their latest release The Weatherman Is Wrong. That they also wield a soulful edge is an unexpected treat, even if we won’t be locking and popping to any of these tunes atop slabs of linoleum.
Married bandleaders Hannah Selin (vocals/viola) and Nicki Adams (piano/synth) offer rich influences. The former courts acoustic sounds while the latter highlights jazz. When meshed together, the instrumentation and vocals share the spotlight equally; not in competition, but symbiosis. Like peanut butter and jelly, crusts intact. In fact, GADADU thrives on a lyrical poeticism, a stream-of-consciousness flow that undulates, ponderously, from foreground to backdrop.
“Cicadas,” the opening cut, begins with the droning buzz of strings. It ultimately ripens into an ideal day drinking lounge ditty, complete with reedy, light-touch military drumming amid the group’s so-called “insect chorus.” Jazz informed vocals unfold after the two-minute mark, set over groaning bass. “Bear,” however, opts for a more spatial, decidedly minor feel, exemplified by Cocteau Twins octave climbing. Likewise, “Dreamhouse” foments a hip-swaying groove alongside persuasive drums, Stevie Wonder-esque horns and disquieting vocoder.
Within the soapy squeak of “At Play,” tempo changes are explored in earnest. “In the thicket of my mind / I have no sense of time,” Selin sings, presumably addressing eternal youth or Alzheimer’s disease. “Makeup,” on the other hand, plays like a Broadway diva on hard time, utilizing 12-tone bridges for viola and piano. And “Ocean’s Children” synthesizes the less interesting portions of Chuck Mangione’s flugelhorn classic “Feels So Good.”
Buried 25 minutes into the LP, the icily crafted “Tides” is a standout. Its gorgeous creep occurs in tandem with slow blooming horns. The experience is smartly controlled, yet dreamily melodic; forgiving the Hispanic-tinged Streisand interlude that plays like self-serving berserkery. Persisting within this format, “Prove To You” features rewarding harmonies. Even if its key lyric, “why must I prove to you” sounds more like “my mudslide, perfect,” it is a paean to awesome bartenders.
GADADU thrives on changeable structure. Those who invest the time while listening will find such aspects fulfilling, particularly in the dopamine spikes known to affect disciples of classical music or other works of complexity. And while The Weatherman Is Wrong is hardly the stuff of hormonal ecstasy, it does offer a keen sense for the random, the erratic and the multifarious. Linoleum slab optional.
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