Photo: Courtesy of the artist via Bandcamp

GADADU Make Mesmerizing Noise on Jazzy, Neo-Psychedelic ‘The Weatherman Is Wrong’

GADADU’s music has always been a balm for the dreariness and anxiety inherent in everyday life. With The Weatherman Is Wrong, they continue to confound and fascinate.

The Weatherman Is Wrong
Gold Bolus Recordings
30 September 2022

The title of GADADU‘s third album is – in a way – perfect. The New York-based sextet thrives on creating music that is impossible to predict, taking cues from jazz, soul, ambient, dream-pop, and neo-classical genres, to name a few. By referring to an errant meteorologist, The Weatherman Is Wrong speaks to GADADU’s tendency to zig when they’re expected to zag.

The Weatherman Is Wrong is GADADU’s first full record since 2018’s Outer Song (they released a single, “dosaardvark”, in 2020), and while they’re still traveling along the same thrilling musical path as before, surprises still abound. Their sound has been augmented by a sixth member, with tenor saxophonist Ayumi Ishito joining the lineup, which includes bandleaders (and spouses) Hannah Selin on vocals and viola, and Nicki Adams on keyboards. Rounding out the sextet are Patrick Adams (Nicki’s brother) on trumpet, Dan Stein on bass, and Arthur Vint on drums.

While GADADU certainly thrive on the spirit of experimentalism, and their approach can hardly be considered mainstream, there’s an inviting feel to their music. It’s as if they’re constantly finding new avenues of expression but always welcoming the audience along for the ride. The opening track, “Cicadas”, unfolds with dramatic strings, synths, a rigid, militaristic snare beat, and subtle horn figures before Selin’s jazzy vocal cadences imbue the song with a deep warmth: “In a little house,” she sings, “The walls are slowly crumbling / They always were / But now I see the cracks / Widening, widening.” The dreamy yet complex musical atmosphere is established from the beginning. It’s not a terribly different sound than anything GADADU has attempted in the past, but it seems like the years between albums have given the band time to fine-tune their sound into something truly striking.

On occasion, The Weatherman Is Wrong almost teases the listener with wonderful moments you wish would last longer. “Bear” is a lush, profoundly melodic slice of lazy dream-pop that sounds like Björk filtered through Mazzy Star. “I wouldn’t know / If a flower grew right through my head,” Selin sings, and it’s all over in less than two minutes (the listener is almost begging for at least one more verse of this intoxicating composition). GADADU stretch out further on “Dreamhouse”, taking advantage of the newly minted two-piece horn section by adding sustained and staccato horn sections over Vint’s stuttering beats. Selin’s vocoder-treated middle section gives the song an added, mysterious dimension.

GADADU’s classical inclinations also make welcome appearances in several places. The viola and piano interplay on the gorgeous “Makeup” suggests a studied, deeply felt approach to chamber pop, and the lush, otherworldly “Prove to You” features an appearance by the Xanthoria Quartet, giving the song a larger-than-life arrangement that breaks free from what little stylistic barriers the rest of the album happens to possess.    

For every moment of mild foreboding, such as on the ethereal, downbeat, “Tide”, there’s playful complexity, such as on the oddly lovable “Ocean’s Children”, which veers between horn-punctuated balladry and off-kilter Latin rhythms. Under less capable hands, this type of stylistic genre-hopping would seem like music school braggadocio. Still, with GADADU, it’s a well-intentioned exercise in finding the right textures and combinations to make music that is complex but filled with perpetual warmth.

“Our future ripples before us,” Selin sings on the jazzy “City of Lights”, “and breaks in staggering moments of truth and love”. GADADU’s music has always been a balm for the dreariness and anxiety inherent in everyday life, and with The Weatherman Is Wrong, they continue to confound and fascinate.

RATING 8 / 10