What's amazing about Portland quintet A Weather isn't that the band were signed to Conor Oberst's Team Love label before they'd logged live shows numbering in the double digits—it's that five musicians could make music this hushed and intimate. Cove, the band's recent debut, uses question marks and ellipses to punctuate tentative tales of relationships and gentle explorations of tangled emotions; like Low, they're masters of minimalism who seem to create dynamics out of thin air (or muted volumes).
Singer/guitarist Aaron Gerber and vocalist/drummer Sarah Winchester trade lines like best friends or ex-lovers, whispered voices intertwining and then unraveling over the band's sparse arrangements, divulging private secrets and revealing touching vulnerability. Emo bands may pride themselves on wearing their broken hearts on their sleeves, but A Weather prefer to delicately explore the language of bruises, armed with the knowledge that a wince is infinitely more interesting than a scream.
While there's not a dull song among Cove's nine tracks (quite a feat considering the restrained palette the band choose to paint with), there are certainly standouts: Opener "Spiders, Snakes" begins with a somber drum roll and almost funereal keyboards before miraculously managing to make the lines "don't get your hopes up/keep them low/try not to reach so high/hard work won't pay off in the end" sound uplifting; "Oh My Stars" is as sigh worthy as its title suggests; and "Pinky Toe" uses the analogy of that hapless digit's trials and tribulations as a metaphor for the narrators' propensity for heartache. They say God is in the details, and A Weather meticulously map the tricky waters of modern romance, giving gorgeous voice to an exquisite combination of complexity, confusion, and ambivalence.
A Weather play Sun May 18, Sunset Tavern, 9 pm, $8, 21+. With Radar Bros. and Facts About Funerals.