Cove is the perfect title for this cure-all debut. A Weather has made a record for rainy days, adolescent pitfalls, travel delays — whenever headphones turn into survival tools, when chords and lyrics suddenly must be stronger than the most unbearable of times.
On first listen, Cove’s songs are lush, dark and acoustic, strung together by frontman/songwriter Aaron Gerber’s hushed monotone. His rasp is standard indie fare, so including drummer Sarah Winchester’s heroine-esque vocals to the mix was beyond wise, as the album is unimaginable without her voice. She plays with Gerber, lacing golden notes into his steel bars and lifting songs that might be too plaintive into lilting Liz Fraser fare.
Like bands from the Go-Betweens to the Smiths, Gerber sticks some truly sad-sack line behind his most upbeat melodies. “Small Potatoes” draws A Weather close to power-pop with its 90s college rocking guitar riff and 60s style doo-wah harmonies, but with lyrics like “It’s hard to watch all your friends dyin’ and say something to make them laugh.” While Winchester laments, “I can’t believe you said I couldn’t love you anymore…” Gerber repeats over and over, “If I can’t have this forever, I don’t want it at all.” When the song ends with Gerber wailing “I don’t want it” with Winchester chirping “dah dah dah” to a tambourine beat, it’s clear that the song could be sweet but simply isn’t meant to be. Gerber’s commixture is clever, twisted and covertly meaningful.
Cove opens with “Spiders, Snakes”, a tongue-in-cheek song that has Gerber plea, “Don’t get your hopes up / keep them low / try not to reach so high / hard work won’t pay off in the end.” He’s not merely repeating the album’s theme of inevitable failure, but also warning the listener, preemptively, and thereby protecting himself. But there’s no need. Cove is a safe haven that can offer solace and engagement — a potentially addictive mix.