Okkervil River
The Stand Ins


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Silveri EMERITUS
September 12th, 2008 | 19 replies | 3,910 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With its sweeping blend of dense folk-rock and free flowing narrative courtesy of lyrical genius Will Scheff, The Stand-Ins is up there with some of the best albums released this year so far.

Will Scheff is an immaculate storyteller. And yes, the Jesus allusion is completely justified. It’s maybe something to do with the fact that it’s almost impossible to actually give a damn about what he’s on about- and the irony of course being that the music on The Stand-Ins is so damn good, it just doesn’t really matter. Billed as the second half of the critically acclaimed The Stage Names, Okkervil’s newest stands side by side and just as high as its predecessor, and with its sweeping blend of dense folk-rock and free flowing narrative courtesy of lyrical genius Sheff, it’s up there with some of the best albums released this year so far.

While it’s hard to call The Stand-Ins predictable, it’s possible to pick out some of threads that tie the record together – songs have a tendency to start small and end big, with the already vibrant opener “Lost Coastlines” ending with a catchy sing along of “la la la las” or the more subdued “On Tour With Zykos” breaking out from softly played piano keys to a moving instrumental sweep. Standing out among the tracks lies the staggering “Blue Tulip”, Sheff’s slow paced cry for love through the trappings of fame, eventually ending with a stirring, crashing crescendo of a pained “Goodbye… Goodbye…”. Sheff’s vocals are powerful, but not in an over-the-top way, complementing the beautiful instrumental power of the rest of the band.

Yet this isn’t exactly ‘epic’ music, but probably rather just more thick, a swirling soundscape with a blend of different instruments and moods, with a rainforest of lyrical themes to go with. Nevertheless, everything here is still lighthearted and airy, with layered melodies skipping from one to the next with a spring in step, never weighed down by overbearing musical passages that peaked out their heads in Okkervil’s previous releases. Some of course might prefer the slightly more rapid river twists of The Stage Names and Black Sheep Boy than the relaxed and cool river journey of The Stand-Ins, but with a record this consistent, it’s really nothing to complain about.

Unlike fellow tale spinners The Decembrists then, Sheff and co. don’t rely on the force of the stories to propel the songs through the album, but focus on creating an equally impressive musical backdrop to hang their lyrical material from. And my gosh, what lyrics they are – largely a continuation of the themes spelled out in The Stage Names, The Stand-Ins once again revolves around the world of the musician and it’s bittersweet experiences, from fame ( ‘They’re waiting to hate you/So give them an excuse’ – “Blue Tulip”), to groupies (‘So I wonder who you got your hooks in tonight/was she happy to be hooked?’ – “On Tour With Zykos”) and the shallowness of pop (‘He's the liar who lied in his pop song/And you're lying when you sing along’ – “Pop Lie”). So despite the perhaps overused theme, these aren’t songs about ‘drugs, sex, Rock n’ Roll’, but the infinitely deeper and more complex intimacies of relationships, giving Okkervil’s music that emotional edge that so many others lack.

Still, the music is so finely crafted, it’s almost possible to float right past the album without even taking notice of the lyrics, being instead caught up and swept away amongst the pulsing bassline of “Coastlines”, the swaying loveliness of “Starry Stairs” or staggering, building beauty of “Blue Tulip”. So it’s a win-win situation either way, and the copious amounts of win here are makes The Stand-Ins a great little album to be adored.

4.2/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 12th 2008



3765 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had meant to get this out earlier, but I've been so busy. Enjoy!

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Kiran
Emeritus
September 12th 2008



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome. I need to get this really badly.

Great review!

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

robin
Emeritus
September 13th 2008



4247 Comments


nice review. i like this alot.

iamrockzorz
September 13th 2008



1029 Comments


sheff.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 13th 2008



3765 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha, okok.

sgrevs
September 13th 2008



698 Comments


I've only heard Lost Coastlines, and it was pretty good. I'll have to listen to the rest soon. His lyrics are so awesome though, what a champion.

Great review too.This Message Edited On 09.13.08

natey
September 13th 2008



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This really is phenomenal. One of those albums that the tracks have become memorable after only 2 or 3 listens.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 13th 2008



3765 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It really is, and I didn't get bored at all after repeated listens while reviewing it either, I'm glad they managed to keep up their standard for like 4 albums in a row.

Teddy Picker
September 14th 2008



280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was hooked once Lost Coastlines began playing

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2008



15728 Comments


I'll check this out, solid review

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Mikesn
Emeritus
September 14th 2008



3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is pretty awesome.

asbuiltmrod
September 16th 2008



1 Comments


Is there a way to send a PM to you Alex?

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 16th 2008



3765 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sure, hit me up - *email edited*This Message Edited On 01.12.09

Bleak123
November 11th 2008



1902 Comments


This is so awesome, listening again right now and "Lost Coastlines" is so fucking good!!

Kiran
Emeritus
January 12th 2009



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm glad they managed to keep up their standard for like 4 albums in a row.

Okkervil River have a remarkably solid discography.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
September 10th 2013



12796 Comments


still havent heard this one

Digging: Dinosaur Jr. - J Mascis Live at CBGB's

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2013



10041 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great record. This is the only Okkervil I've heard thus far, and I love it.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
September 10th 2013



12796 Comments


i wrote that review to convince you to silver gymnasium

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
September 10th 2013



12796 Comments


yea this rules



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