Okkervil River | I Am Very Far

Jagjaguwar (2011)
By DAN WEISS  |  May 26, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars

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From Green Day's American Idiot to the Hold Steady's Separation Sunday, concept albums have been back in style for a bit. So much so that lit-rockers like the Mountain Goats, the Decemberists, and Okkervil River have had to prove they can make records without an overarching theme or storyline. That's what the above-named have done this year. The Goats opted for a short stories/vignettes approach, whereas the Decemberists regrouped with short, Byrdsy folk numbers. But Okkervil River have simply made their most musically forthright record while pushing the lyrics back behind the curtain. "The Valley" mentions "rock and roll" as their previous pair of stage-obsessed albums did, but the meaning is less important than Will Sheff's double-tracked singing. "Lay of the Last Survivor" is inverted power pop, like their "Unless It's Kicks" laid out over muted horns instead of forceful guitars. Two songs take note of Arcade Fire's Grammy win: the string-propelled "White Shadow Waltz" and the sing-along "Your Past Life As a Blast." The smooth shape of this album — there's no rising or falling action — and lack of a big concept won't replace 2005's Black Sheep Boy for diehard fans, just as the superior The Stand-Ins didn't in 2008. But Elvis Costello fans should holler.

OKKERVIL RIVER + TITUS ANDRONICUS + FUTURE ISLANDS | Royale, 279 Tremont St, Boston | June 8 @ 7 pm | $18 advance/$20 doors | 617.338.7699

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  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Okkervil River, Okkervil River,  More more >
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