October 2, 2008

Okkervil River's The Stand Ins

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Crafting the spiritual soul mate to last year’s standout album The Stage Names, Okkervil River puts forth another set of literary, well-orchestrated rock ballads in their latest effort The Stand Ins. Clocking in at an economical 40 minutes, the Austin based band channels earnest lyrics and shining musicianship into their songs creating an incredibly refreshing album.
The musical hooks are present from the onset of the album, and after a short opening instrumental, Okkervil River steps in with the strongest song on the album, “Lost Coastlines.” Rustic banjo, plucked bass and thumping drums coalesce as lead singer Will Sheff and former bandmate Jonathan Meiburg mull over loss, life choices and the process of moving on without stopping to analyse anything. The song blooms as the band adds continuous layers of horns and soaring string flourishes. This solid detail is present throughout the album, and on the song “Starry Stairs,” they expand on a few tragic stories from their previous album, set to a backdrop of ascending brass and soft ambience.
The Stand Ins is far from secondary, as the humble title would suggest. Self-referential, deeply personal and rife with theatricality and allusions, Okkervil River creates a solid body of introspective songs that takes centre-stage.