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Saturday, 6 June 2015

Okkervil River – The Stage Names


Okkervil River operate in a distinct bubble of their own making where dark folk meets passionate fiercely delivered lyrics. I doubt it will ever be popular in the widest sense, but that doesn’t prevent their unique take on the genre being both fascinating and intoxicating. Compared to the other Okkervil albums I’ve listened to this is positively upbeat and jolly. Some of the tracks even have an element of Panic at the Disco about them, but don’t get giddy, it’s only a cursory nod to the real world.

This is still the Okkervil template with a harsh yet beautiful selection of songs that partner hand crafted song writing skills with Will Sheff’s melancholy lyrics delivered with a force of nature singing style that can sometimes shatter your fine china. There’s plenty of dark ballads, chunky folk music and heartfelt sentiments as we’ve come to expect, however there’s not one track that you can say really stands out, unlike their other albums.
‘Plus Ones’ is possibly the nearest thing to an Okkervil anthem but somehow tails off in the second half. Other highlights are the jolly ‘A Hand to Take Hold of a Scene’, the soaring ‘Our life is Not a Movie or Maybe’ and the mammoth country yarn of ‘A Girl in Port’.
It’s a great and thoroughly enjoyable album but in no way one of their best. It’s well worth a listen but better entry level albums are ‘Black Sheep Boy’ and ‘Down the River of Golden Dreams’. It’s decent but unspectacular (for them).