Shearwater: “Breaking the Yearlings”
Shearwater is probably one of the most cerebral rock bands working today. There have been hints to a grand conceit at work in their music since it began over a decade ago. Take, for instance, the zoological themes that abound throughout the band’s catalog, or the excellent three album “trilogy” of Palo Santo, Rook and Golden Archipelago. It’s pretty clear that the band isn’t just willy-nilly throwing rock ‘n’ roll ideas against the wall to see what sticks. That said, Shearwater’s latest Animal Joy, released today, feels like the group’s grand plan is finally coming to fruition.
The band formed back in 2001 by Okkervil River members Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff as an outlet for material that wasn’t quite right for Okkervil. By the release of Shearwater’s fourth record, 2006′s Palo Santo, Sheff had all but left the band and Meiburg took control. The band did some label hopping, but on Animal Joy, they’ve landed at the venerable indie Sub Pop. And by the sound of the record, Shearwater’s making themselves right at home.
On Animal Joy you’ll find Shearwater’s usual breadth and power, but there are hints at something very new. The band dips into The Smiths (and even Meiburg’s expressive croon recalls Morrissey) on “Dread Sovereign.” There’s a whiff of the Brit-pop of early XTC and The Jam on “Immaculate.” There’s a menacing energy to today’s song of the day “Breaking The Yearlings.” It has a such bite and stomp that, even if you never thought it would be possible, it’s hard not to get amped up by it. The record really moves, and it’s proof that the band is venturing into uncharted, yet very welcoming, waters.