Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Shearwater - Rook

At 1:30 into On the Death of the Waters, the first track on Shearwater’s new album Rook, there’s a bit of a surprise. It’s not that I’m unused to the quiet/loud dynamic in music – plenty of bands do it – but here, it seems almost out of character. The gentle opening sets you up for what you think is going to be a piano ballad, but then the guitars and trumpet crash in, jolt you upright, then retire leaving the song quiet and lovely again.

It’s a good motif for the rest of Rook. It's an understated album, but one that has a few surprises up its sleeve. It’s epic, but never in an overblown way. It’s got a quiet determination and a steely core and thankfully no stadium-friendly choruses coming soon to an enormodome near you. That said, Jonathan Meiburg deserves some sort of recognition for this impressive work. The songs on Rook feel very carefully considered, and although there’s a melding of piano, strings and Meibug’s decent falsetto amongst a heap other instruments, you get the impression that there’s nothing extraneous here, nothing has been wasted.

That may give the impression that it’s a technically good, but still quite dull record. No chance. It’s really quite beautiful in many places, it’s often the most pared-down songs that are the best and it’s a record that rewards repeated listens. If this is the work of a ‘side project’, now that Meiburg has officially left Okkervil River to concentrate fully on Shearwater, imagine how good it’s going to get?

Download: Shearwater – On the Death of the Waters
Download: Shearwater – Lost Boys

Buy Rook from Rough Trade (album of the week) or download from emusic.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Spot on regarding Meiburg. Shearwater have made another incredible album. Listen to "Home Life," and just soak up the beauty.