Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Album Review - Shearwater

Shearwater – Rook
[Matador; 03/06/2008]

Without too much notice from music listeners around the world, Shearwater have been trekking around for the last five years. Up until now, frontman Jonathon Meiburg has kept busy with Okkervil River, but with his main band attracting more and more attention, he has now left Will Sheff and Okkervil' to concentrate more on this project (despite Sheff actually being a part-time member of Shearwater, too). Shearwater extract a more folk orientated form of music as apposed to Okkervil River and their fifth album, Rook, displays this trait quite contently.

The noise levels abrasively rise at times, with opening track 'On the Death of the Waters' portraying this nicely, but for the most part Meiburg croons to his listeners in an attempt to melt hearts ('The Snow Leopard' and 'Hunter's Star'). 'Rooks' moves in ebbs and flows with Meiburg's thick vocal the standout, while 'Century Eyes' is a more intense rocking affair that moves away from the rest of the album.

In a lot of ways Shearwater's music is very similar to Okkverill River's ('Leviathan Bound' and 'Home Life'), but with more of a gracious representation. Meiburg chooses to sooth his listeners with grandeur and lust, as apposed to jumping out of the speakers and shaking them like his Texan cohort, Sheff. At times this is commendable on Shearwater's behalf, but at others it can a little tedious and difficult to engage with, with the music sounding more like candle light dinner material as apposed to Gothic folk.

Rook is an album that needs your undivided attention, which makes it a tough journey if you're not in the mood. Along with a set of headphones - which are an essential if you're to fulfil the album's potential – patience is a virtue. There maybe something festering here and although things may not come to fruition from the outset, it's still worth sticking around, because like all good albums, things could just take a little longer to burn.

By Simon K

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