Their last album was called "Winged Life", and this new mini-album has pictures of birds on the sleeve which begs the question- just what is it with birds and Shearwater? Putting that aside this a fitting follow up to the superb "Winged Life" both in terms of quality and tone. Now I got very excited by "Winged Life", indeed it was my favourite album of last year (Along with Interpol's "Antics") and religiously implored anyone who'd listen to check them out. Those who did were not disappointed. Neither will they be disappointed with Thieves, though it's not quite as relentlessly superb as "Winged life". "I Cant Wait" starts with a reluctant strum of guitar and Jonathon Meiburg, s quavering vocals crawl in. Plaintive hesitant chimes of vibraphone trickle in the background then suddenly Meiburg howls "I Cant wait" with palpable desperate longing. Another reviewer of "Winged Life " criticised his vocals as weak which is not just missing the point ,but the sides and base as well. Listen mate, if you want mega lunged bellowers stick to Daniel Beddingfield and his ilk. Meiburg elicits more emotion from drawing breath than most singers manage from their entire recorded output. As is proven by the subtle gorgeous "You're the Coliseum" and the banjo led "Mountain Laurel" which is supplemented by abrasive fiddle and throbbing percussion. "There's a Mark Where You Were Breathing" sees the vocals blip and shimmer over a slightly static acoustic arrangement while the desperately bleak "Near A Garden" pit's a tale of attending a funeral to wheezing fiddle ,pretty frills of guitar and unsentimental backing vocals. So more wonderful stuff from Shearwater, a band whose predilection for forensically desolate music continues unabated. But it works and works well because they have an instinctive knack of collaborating their desolation without resorting to platitudes or cliché and in Meiburg they have a singer who can pull it off and make it sound like life or death and not be sure which is worse.
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i had tried to mail this on several occassions - and it would have been posted earlier if not for ghosts in the machine... i have been a collector of art, books, photographs, movies and music - popular culture for decades now. i have an extensive collection - but keep a box of a dozen or so discs close to me most of the time. essential listening i need like comfort food. now in this box i have two peices of work by shearwater -"winged life" and "thieves" two masterful discs that are so closely connected it is criminal not to play both - one after the other. hummm! - these two peices of art are magical, mysterious, musical realism - altogether - all at once. sweeping cinemagraphics, widescreen soundscapes - malik and lean. yet - enigmatic - lingering like the work of wong kar wai. american folk, chamber rock, classic pop - label it as you will... intimate, yearning, understated vocals - reluctantly extrovert. juanting, jubilant, joyous guitars, fiddle, banjo, and keyboards. bouyant precussion. yeah - two timeless classics - all time greats and to be so persistent with the posting - well it must be love.
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