‘fallen in the valley of the rock and roll dead’

Okkervil River – I Am Very Far
(Jagjaguwar, 2011)

Will Sheff is a frightening individual.  Not physically, odds are he has avoided or lost more confrontations that he has won, but frightening in a mental way.  There are dark rooms in his mind, rooms where unspeakable things have happened.  Rooms that should be under lock and key with 24×7 surveillance.  The simple existence of these rooms is not what makes Will so threatening or even unique.  We all have the mind shafts where we hide our deepest and darkest, right?  What makes Will so unique, what makes his lyrical content so shit-yourself scary, is the fact that he celebrates the skeletons in his closets, propping them up like marionettes dancing on your grave.  Spending time with Roky Erickson, a man who has spent far too much time in real-world houses of horror, has done nothing to lighten the lyrical content on Okkervil River‘s sixth full-length album, I Am Very Far.

This is the first Okkervil album in years without a continuous narrative, but the collection of songs do have a connection…somewhat of a violent streak.  A quick scan of the lyrics read like the screenplay for the latest Hollywood adaptation of a Korean horror flick.  ‘blood red of flayed pigs…you might be a murderess…hang the rest…bloody black gunshot to the head…a slit throat like raw winter…’  I could go on, but what’s the point?  These lyrics fall flat on the page.  They are as two-dimensional as this screen you read from.  They mean nothing without Will‘s voice yelling them at levels he has no right achieving (and sometimes doesn’t).  They mean nothing without the 30+ musicians providing the eulogy to rock and roll’s dead.  Drums and guitars complemented by saxophones, cellos, trombones, pump organs and stuff I have never heard of and cannot pronounce.  If you are looking for easy music, this is not it, but if you are looking for something deep and at times frightening, look no further than Okkervil River‘s best album since Black Sheep Boy.

Okkervil RiverYour Past Life as a Blast

Full Reviews:
A.V. Club
D.O.A.
Under The Radar