MUSIC – Review – Okkervil River – Away

MUSIC – Review – Okkervil River – Away

Will Sheff’s Okkervil River has been through something of a transitionary period between the last album and this, as has he. The results are immediately audible, and suggest more equally interesting alt-rock poignancy to come in the future.

Okkervil River 

‘Away’

ATO Records 

4/5

 

You can hear the emotion in Will Sheff’s voice coming through loud and clear. The aural equivalent to that gutwrenching feeling when you know all might be lost, and your only hope of getting anywhere again is to regain some resolve, steady those legs, brush the suit down and move on.

 

Perhaps that’s just because we know the backstory to the latest studio album from his beloved band- Okkervil River are one of those outfits who mean everything to some, whereas others have still to experience them. Then again, the Austin, Texas-born troupe are known for exquisite alt-rock chords, born of both personal and collective experiences, with songwriting second-to-none too, so it doesn’t take long to figure out what the lyrics are talking about here.

 

With the opening gambit, Okkervil River R.I.P., there’s no mystery this record represents something transitionary. To make it happen, Sheff has collaborated with a host of musicians, many from the avante garde scene, to give new life to an outfit that could have been shelved altogether, with members moving on to fresh pastures and family circumstances making the frontman himself question a few things about where from here.

 

As such the results are at times unexpected, not least in Mary On A Wave, which sounds like some strange, sombre hybrid of funk and folk. The Industry, meanwhile, reeks of a disdain (although not bitterness) towards the businesses of show and music, the fake people and greedy opportunists therein, which is equally jarring in its outspoken stance. And Judey On A Street is an explosive, joyful affair saturated in beautiful harmony. In short then, this latest addition to the Okkervil oeuvre is accomplished as ever, and very much leaves it open-ended in terms of what comes next.