Sunday, February 1, 2009

Truth is Truth: Okkervil River ~ The Stand Ins

Okkervil River ~ The Stand Ins
TP Minnick

Will Sheff and company’s fifth studio album, The Stand Ins, conjures up similar sounds to its’ 2007 sequel, The Stage Names. With a beautifully mopey sound, and tracks that were actually recorded during The Stage Names sessions, this 40 minute album reproduces a winning sound to please any Okkervil River Fan.
The album opens with one of the three ambient instrumentals creatively called, “Stand Ins, One”. These short ballads are by no means filler and add cinematic touches between songs. When “Lost Coastlines” kicks on, a banjo and powerful vocals give way to a seafaring themed song that serves as a great farewell to Jonathan Meiburg, now fronting the group Shearwater. Powerful vocals are delivered from both Sheff and Meiburg to create a powerful song. On “Starry Stairs”, Sheff really opens up lyrically on a horn-filled ballad that seems to be the best on the album. “Blue Tulip” and “Singer Songwriter” are both vocal masterpieces that continue in the theme of dissecting the life that goes with being on tour. The most accessible song on the album, “Pop Lie” is a great catchy song reminiscent of The New Pornographers. The album’s closing ballad tells of a fictional interview with 70’s pop star Bruce Wayne Campbell, who struggled with aids and whose work was overall unappreciated. It is the perfect way to end an album that focuses on the struggles of being an artist. Okkervil River craft a short set, that probably should have been in a double disk with Stage Names, into a collection of pop songs that resembles the sounds of its sequel. It is the next emotional catharsis in the studio legacy of Okkervil River.

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