Shearwater: Jet Plane and Oxbow (Sub Pop)

 |   |  1 min read

Shearwater: Wildlife in America
Shearwater: Jet Plane and Oxbow (Sub Pop)

Although somewhat difficult listening (because the lyrics needed decoding, if not footnotes), the previous Shearwater albums which passed Elsewhere's way have been quite beguiling.

On both occasions though we noted the absence of a lyric sheet which might have been helpful . . . and lo! This one comes with such a thing.

The irony is that it is hardly needed because Jonathan Melburg's vocals are much further forward in the mix and his very English-soundng enuciation (they are from Austin) makes everything clear.

In a further irony, it is actually the musical shift here which brings this one home in a way previous albums haven't quite managed. It rides very Eighties-sounding motorik beats and synths with great urgency and an almost heroic, chest-to-the-wind assertion.

This is in harmony with the themes of  humanity and technology ("head like a blank screen"), travel by night into the unknown darkness, unstated menace in the world ("Daddy's on the next plane . . . fingering a knife") and the malevolent presence of machinery.

This is music full of unease, tension and intensity. But it is all so carefully crafted, so disciplined and spacious, that it comes off as dark pop which surges upwards. 

By the end there might have been one too many manly ballads -- Pale Kings at the midpoint is just a drum-thump short of Phil Collins, the good part of Collins however -- but this might be the album which shoves Shearwater into greater attention.

About time too, this is their 11th outing and they share members with Okkervil River so there should have been success by association.

Make the time for this. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Vampire Weekend: Contra (XL)

Vampire Weekend: Contra (XL)

Coming to this second album by a very buttoned down and upper crust outfit from New York (who met at Columbia University) will be a surprise if you took from their name they were some dark and... > Read more

James Hunter, People Gonna Talk (Rounder/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

James Hunter, People Gonna Talk (Rounder/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

This unashamedly enjoyable album is crammed full of songs where Hunter's velvet soulful r'n'b vocals are placed alongside a superbly tight little band of upright bass, saxophones and locked-in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

DOWN AT THE END OF LONELY STREET by PETER BROWN and PAT BROESKE: The rise and fall of the King

DOWN AT THE END OF LONELY STREET by PETER BROWN and PAT BROESKE: The rise and fall of the King

With the second volume of Peter Guralnick’s definitive two-part biography of Elvis, Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley there would seem little reason to be interested in this... > Read more

Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance (1978)

Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance (1978)

It has become fashionable lately to speak of “post-rock” and cite bands such as Tortoise, Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky as being groups which use the tools of rock, but create... > Read more