Tycho – Weather
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Since evolving from a Boards of Canada-inspired solo project to a full-fledged touring band around 2010, Tycho has perfected an instantly recognizable form of instrumental electronic pop music with strong beats, ringing guitars, and stirring melodies. With fifth album Weather, Scott Hansen distills the signature Tycho sound into the most accessible it's ever been, keeping all the songs around three or four minutes each and adding lyrics for the first time. Hannah Cottrell (aka Saint Sinner) essentially becomes Tycho's frontwoman, singing the majority of Weather's eight songs, and the album benefits from this cohesion, as opposed to being a patchwork featuring several varying guests. Tycho's albums always seem to balance the familiar and comforting with enough of a sense of the unknown to keep them exciting, and the addition of Cottrell's vocals is perfectly fitting in this regard -- she gives the music more of a human touch, and her lyrics are introspective enough to tap into the vulnerable side of human emotions without being an intense act of soul-searching. As she sings on "Skate," "I like to keep it a little bit dangerous." "Pink & Blue" is directly inspired by a time when Cottrell was in love with a man and a woman simultaneously, and the lyrics are about general feelings (such as missing someone and being concerned about their well-being) rather than specific details. "No Stress" reflects on friends who have passed away and a constantly changing world, ultimately offering an encouraging message, telling listeners not to worry because everything will ultimately work itself out. Weather functions as one would expect of Tycho's vision of a pop album -- it's immaculately crafted as well as relatable, while also smooth and unchallenging enough to warrant repeated background listening.