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

Jamie xx: In Colour (XL)

Jamie xx: In Colour (XL)

This debut solo album by the boffin behind The xx (and an influential and innovative remixer) joins a number of very intersting dots in British dance and ambient pop of the past few decades.... > Read more

Various: Healing the Divide (Anti/Shock)

Various: Healing the Divide (Anti/Shock)

Now that Earth Aid or whatever it was called has retreated safely into the distance we might well ask: What the hell was that all about? "So, you, like, didn't get the point of Al's film... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Dave Rowlands of Clap Clap Riot

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Dave Rowlands of Clap Clap Riot

Clap Clap Riot's debut album Counting Spins registered under that "long overdue" category. But when it came out a few months back it went straight into our Favourite Five Recent CDs... > Read more

THE DOORS CONSIDERED, AGAIN (2017): Mr Mojo rises once more

THE DOORS CONSIDERED, AGAIN (2017): Mr Mojo rises once more

Many consider 1967 rock's greatest year: albums became more important than singles (Sgt Pepper's leading the way) and there were groundbreaking debuts by Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Velvet... > Read more