Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

OKKERVIL RIVER

The Stage Names

2007-09-17

Dynamics. That’s what you notice when Okkervil River’s 5th album, “The Stage Names” starts up. “Our Life is not a Movie, or Maybe” is likely the most infectious song I’ve heard that does not have a traditional repeated chorus. The second track “Unless It’s Kicks” runs in the same vein. Songwriter Will Sheff is practically singing prose. The band slows things down on the ballad “Savanna Smiles” a sad story of what seems to be father/daughter estrangement. Things rock again on the driving “Plus Ones” which does have a chorus, though an odd one. “A Girl in Port” is a song with an emotional build-up where once again dynamics play a key role. One hears this song as the sound track song played over a montage near the end of a well-done romantic film. It’s probably the keenest example of the cinematic nature of the album as a whole, which lyrically often makes references to film or theater. The last two tracks, “Title Track” and “John Allyn Smith” are both good, but don’t grab one as fast as many of the other songs do. The last song breaks into “Sloop John B” an old folk song done famously by the Beach Boys on Pet Sounds. - Rich T. Anderson

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