Black Sheep Boy (CD)


Okkervil River

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Amoeba Review

John Schacht 10/02/2012

With each subsequent Okkervil River record, Will Sheff's feral yowl and passionate prose grew more adept at undoing his listeners' defenses and cinching their heartstrings to the music's roiling emotions. Credit should go to the rest of the band here for successfully expanding their palette again as they seemingly do with every Okkervil release. It starts here with the opening Okkervil original, "For Real," a gory, visceral introduction to the chief character/Black Sheep. (A brief cover of folk icon Tim Hardin's "Black Sheep Boy" opens the record proper.) Unlike previous Okkervil fare, where Sheff's plaintive voice stood out in relief against the gentle folk- and country-flavored musical backdrop, the start/stop, stuttering power chords of "For Real" match Sheff's unhinged intensity, goading the singer on like a red flag in front of a bull. Fans of the band’s previous rootsy sound need not worry; the Wurlitzer, vibraphone and lap steel still play prominent roles. But elsewhere, Black Sheep Boy comes on full throttle, recalling at times the insistent momentum of Arcade Fire songs, while "The Latest Toughs" is a jaunty, summer pop song with Stax-like horn blasts of the kind featured during the golden age of AM radio. It's exciting to hear the band grow musically in such a confident manner, but as long as Sheff is the singer Okkervil's trademark remains the loping country lament, vocals front and center. Sheff confesses he is a frustrated fiction writer, but his narratives are so well crafted they read like mini-stories delivered in a frantic yet coherent rush. The dramatic nature of the whole Okkervil package — vocals, lyrics, music, even William Schaff's intricate and disturbing cover art — lends it the theatrical nature of Neutral Milk Hotel's masterpiece, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, an admitted influence on Sheff and his band. And with Black Sheep Boy, Okkervil River gets closer still to delivering an equally unique and passionate portrayal of the human heart.



Track Listing



Disc 1 Titles
Artist
Length
1.
Black Sheep Boy
Okkervil River 01:18
2.
For Real
Okkervil River 04:42
3.
In a Radio Song
Okkervil River 05:38
4.
Black
Okkervil River 04:39
5.
Get Big
Okkervil River 03:55
6.
A King and a Queen
Okkervil River 03:22
7.
A Stone
Okkervil River 05:23
8.
The Latest Toughs
Okkervil River 03:11
9.
Song of Our So-Called Friend
Okkervil River 03:23
10.
So Come Back, I Am Waiting
Okkervil River 08:03
11.
A Glow
Okkervil River 03:43

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