Graham Reid | | <1 min read
The last appearance of Texas' Okkervil River was them providing emotional support and the musical context for damaged cult figure Roky Erickson on his exceptional, moving True Love Cast Out All Evil.
Their singer/songwriter Will Sheff is one of the smartest around (he writes the most extraordinary and emotionally insightful ballads) and has a keen sense of pop history which he draws on but adapts for his own purposes.
So while this one knocks off a bit of Springsteen's stadium
bombast (Rider), a
touch of string-stabbed blues-pop crunch (The Valley)
and piano-hammered ELO-like pop (White Shadow Waltz)
for attention-grabbing effect, it is in material like the quivering,
melodically gorgeous, sensitively arranged ballad Lay of
the Last Survivor, the
desperate, reaching melodrama of We Need a Myth
and slowly unveiling widescreen pop of Your Past Life as
Blast where this really pulls
the clever-clogs embellishments (the electro-squiggles on Piratess,
too much with the strings in
places) detract from the raw material and the oddly Celtic Hanging
from a Hit is an earnestly
As always, Sheff writes songs you want to hear but with a cast of two dozen players this takes their open-hearted inclusiveness a bit far and sinks the lesser material. You might prefer to hear half of this in an unplugged session.
Like the sound of this? Then check out this.