On Disc: Okkervil River

Album: The Stand Ins

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Stand Ins by Okkervil River

Okkervil River
The Stand Ins
JagJaguwar

3 stars

This album is the second half of what this folky Texan indie band had originally intended to be a double album. The half-released first, The Stage Names, shows a hand grasping up from a pit of quicksand on the album’s cover. The cover of this album takes us into the quicksand and shows the ill-fated, and clearly expired, owner of that hand. The lyrical content in the songs on The Stand Ins is similarly dark and hopeless. In the three-part title track, the singer learns some painful truths about himself and becomes fearful of travelling any further and learning more.

Besides “Singer Songwriter,” a track with a classic country feel that sounds a lot like Johnny Cash, the songs are more reserved with slow jams, smooth organs and storytelling vocals reminiscent of Wilco.

Each song reveals another side to the story of a man who’s just barely come of age and already knows he’s missed his shot to make it big " a very relatable tale. Sometimes vocalist Will Sheff’s lyrics start to ramble and sometimes they seem downright whiny. These sad yarns aren’t for everybody, but if you’re able to wade through the long lyrical sections you’ll often be rewarded with some climactic instrumentals.

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