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

Kath Bloom: Thin Thin Line (Caldo Verde)

Kath Bloom: Thin Thin Line (Caldo Verde)

Although this wobbly-voiced American folkie has been around since the late Seventies I confess I have never heard/heard of her. On a first hearing I can't say I think I missed much: vocally she... > Read more

Roy Harper: Songs of Love and Loss (Union Square)

Roy Harper: Songs of Love and Loss (Union Square)

English folk-rocker Harper – now 70 – is much eulogised by senior (male) British rock critics and has latterly been hailed by the neo-folk movement (Fleet Foxes, Devendra Banhart,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Teleclere: Steal Your Love (1983)

Teleclere: Steal Your Love (1983)

Say, "Seattle" and music people will say some variation of grunge or Nirvana. Pity. That's like thinking that Liverpool in the 21st century is still those black'n'white... > Read more

DAMIAN MARLEY INTERVIEWED (2006): Maintaining the family standard

DAMIAN MARLEY INTERVIEWED (2006): Maintaining the family standard

The most common complaint from those who have stardom thrust upon them -- the tabloid coverage and paparazzi, the private chef serving you rather than some kid on minimum wage -- is that nothing... > Read more