3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Another year....another brilliant Shearwater album,
This review is from: Rook (Audio CD)
After my last review of a Shearwater album -the expansive double "Paulo Santo " - I enquired what is it with this band and birds. .....well doh! I've since discovered that front man Jonathon Meiburg is a keen ornithologist which I suppose was pretty obvious when you think about it. Anyway Rooks is their new one and as well as keeping the ornithological theme going it's more of their tender wracked powerfully affecting music with Meiburgs quavering falsetto once again the palpable emotional core.
Rook is their fifth album and if criticism is to be levelled in the direction of this band it,s that those five albums have seen little divergence, over the course of those releases, from the first. So yes Rook is more of the same though when you talking about music as invariably sublime as Shearwater it would be churlish to complain too much ..if at all.
So while the albums thematic hub is once again nature through allegorical meanings or less obtuse references it also centres around silvery guitars chords or forlorn stretched piano augmented by banjo, organ, electric, lap steel , vibraphone , horns, harp , clarinet , glockenspiel and wraithlike strings. But there is deep and noticeable differences between each track which makes Rook compelling listening and answers I suppose the charge that each album fails to move on from the previous one. Why should they when every album offers such multi faceted delights
Accordingly "Homelife" is stately chamber pop, and "Century Eyes" has stomping rock chords, ardent percussive wallops and a vocal yowl that would startle police horses. "I Was A Cloud" is a delicate ballad with notes floating like dust motes in bright sunshine leading onto the atonal instrumental strains of "South Col". "The Snow Leopard" is the sort of dramatic compelling song Shearwater excel at , showcasing again why Meiburg is such a terrific vocalist . The graceful polite "The Hunters Star" has a truly lovely melodic dip but my favourite track is opener "On The Death Of Waters" which reminds me of the fantastic post rockers Rex whose album "C" is like the Shearwater album they never made . The way the guitars and brass crash in for the last third is a real sit up and take notice moment. The title track with it,s memorable chromatic jangle and fleshy rolling bass is like prime REM , though the brass recalls Calexico. "Leviathan Bound" has cinematic strings over twinkling glockenspiel and urgent piano .
I would say that Rook is,nt quite as immediate as their previous albums , but in the end it,s every bit as good .They are a remarkable , consistent , assured , persuasive band and a bafflingly over looked one as well. To make five albums as good as the ones Shearwater have produced is worthy of the highest praise. Another year , another tremendous Shearwater album , another reference to birds. That mystery( if indeed it was ever a mystery except to me) solved the only question that remains now is.: How do they consistently create such magnificent music ? Does it really matter as long as it continues?