Thursday, March 04, 2010

Review: Shearwater, The Golden Archipelago

The Golden Archipelago
Shearwater was founded in 2001 as a side project of Okkervil River’s Will Sheff and Jonathan Meiburg for quieter songs than what they usually performed with the rest of the band. Will Sheff has now left Shearwater, and Jonathan Meiburg has left Okkervil River in order to devote his time to Shearwater. Their most recent effort, The Golden Archipielago is an excellent album. What I mean by that is that it has a cohesiveness that I feel you cannot fully appreciate if you try to listen to the individual tracks outside of the album’s context. If I were to hear any of these songs independently from the rest, I could appreciate them, but not as much as I the experience of listening to the album as a whole. Every song has a smooth transition into the next, keeping the listener captivated and in anticipation for what is to come. There seems to be a direction in which the album is guiding you as it progresses through the tracks. As much as I believe this cohesiveness was a strength of the album, it may as well have lead to one of its weakest aspects. The songs seem so codependent on each other that the album did not have as many standout tracks as Rook, where many songs were extremely catchy and held their ground independently. One track that did stand out (negatively) was “Corridors.” Meiburg seems to attempt to go for one of those intensely climactic moments that Okkervil River have in their songs, and I would say he should stick to the quieter side of his songwriting and leave the raspier vocals and intense climactic moments to Will Sheff. One of Shearwater’s greatest characteristics are Meiburg’s vocal abilities, and it is these quieter songs that allow for a full appreciation of them. Overall, it is a solid effort that requires a listen as an album and not a collection of singles. You will embark on a journey I guarantee you will enjoy.
Highly recommended track: Hidden Lakes

--Enrique Lemus
Host, "Moose Tracks," Mondays 10-12 p.m. on WGTB

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