Phil Selway

Weatherhouse

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Listening to Weatherhouse, the second solo album from Radiohead drummer Philip Selway, and it's hard not to imagine that it exists in an alternate universe, one bereft of the electronica that rewired the English band's circuitry in the late '90s. Synthesizers are by no means absent on Weatherhouse -- an electronic pulse is among the first sounds heard on the album -- but they are not prominent. They, like so much else on this handsome record, function as a colorful thread in an intricately woven tapestry. Where there's often a steely glint in the master plan of Thom Yorke (the near simultaneous release of Tomorrow's Modern Boxes makes comparisons hard to avoid), Selway prefers a small-scale intimacy. His voice -- often murmuring, never soaring -- has an inherent conversational warmth that sometimes distracts from the sly complexities of his compositions. Then again, the charm of Weatherhouse is that it's unassuming: he's tapping into the gentle ebb and flow of classic English art rock but he's sensible enough to never succumb to the ostentatious display of brains that sometimes plagues classic prog. This is an immaculately crafted, impossibly tasteful miniature, one that will satisfy any listener longing for a Radiohead stripped of future shock.

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