5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
More grit, same depth,
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This review is from: Animal Joy (Audio CD)
Jonathan Meiburg, lead singer and songwriter of the Austin TX based Shearwater promised something a little different from this release and whilst there is no radical sea shift evident, listeners of the band's previous albums will notice a more muscular approach with loud guitars and more prominent drums dominating. On previous releases there was a little more room to breathe with Meiburg's piano leading many songs and Thor Harris's excellent percussion always subtle and varied beneath an array of diverse instruments including Kimberley Burke's airy and melodic double bass. On Animal Joy there is less space in the music making for a more claustrophobic listening experience and meaning that intensity is created by louder distorted guitar rather than the array of instruments prevalent on the likes of the last album, The Golden Archipelago.
Comparisons with Spirit of Eden era Talk Talk (a millstone around the band's neck courtesy of lazy journalists for a few years now) can well and truly be put to bed with this release. Whereas previously the lengthy instrumental passages using diverse instruments could indeed be compared to Mark Hollis's band, on Animal Joy we have an altogether rougher sound, much more like a conventional rock band playing short, concise numbers interspersed with feedback and strong bass (Burke seems to have shelved the double bass in favour of bass guitar for most of the songs on this album).
One thing that hasn't changed is the quality Meiburg's compositions and the breadth of the band's ambitions. From the opening Animal Joy with its joyful, soaring melody and thunderous drums we are in safe hands and as the album develops tune after tune reveal themselves with You as You Were and the closing Star of the Age standing out as particular highlights.
Highly recommended for fans of melodic and bookish indie rock.