Reviews in 200 Words

"I Am Very Far" by Okkervil River

In Album, letdown, podcast on June 8, 2011 at 10:18 am


Evolution in current music is slippery. Creative exploration and reliability is rewarded … up to a point. A big gamble can result in a classic. Or a letdown.

Some bands employ album to album experimentation as their bread and butter. Others are workhorses of dependability. For five albums Okkervil River has been that band, turning out albums of delicate, beautiful, horrific and heart-aching songs. Black Sheep Boy stands up next to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. The Stage Names is folk-pop perfection.

But their latest effort is an unquestionable failure. Doubling up on bassists and drummers, the band aimed at a new (wall of) sound. The resulting impact is a freeway stopping head-on musical collision.

Band leader Will Sheff is capable of poetic and pristine lyrics. He might be saying something profound here but it’s hard to tell. His voice is mostly obscured behind a muddy curtain of clatter. Nothing stands out. Nothing is arresting (except the ever-present racket). Song after song clanks and rattles past. Begging for attention. Garnering little.

Maybe I Am Very Far will grow legs. Until it does there’s a back-catalog of genius worth visiting and revisiting until the next big gamble comes along.

~ Jay Cullis


Click here to download this week’s official Beat Jab Podcast, featuring a look at Okkervil River’s new album, as well as a look back at their previous efforts.

You can now subscribe to The Beat Jab Podcast through iTunes. Search “beat jab” in the iTunes store and subscribe for free, weekly, automatic downloads of the podcast to your computer! Click here for more info.


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