Shearwater
The Great Awakening


4.5
superb

Review

by Sowing STAFF
June 12th, 2022 | 86 replies


Release Date: 06/10/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Your patience will be rewarded.

The Great Awakening sounds like anything but. It's a very slow-to-unravel piece that simmers at a low burn, occasionally sending a spark flaring into the night sky only to see it parachute back to the Earth and dissipate. Still, there's something mysterious - and almost sinister - about Shearwater's tenth album. Its folk atmosphere gives it a lush beauty which can't be denied, but there are little moments scattered about that make the whole thing deeply unsettling - eerie pauses, discordant synth lines, ritualistic drums, a choir of howler monkeys (no, really - they're credited as backing vocalists) - and it's strange enough to draw you in a little more each time you listen. It's an undeniable rabbit hole, but your patience will be rewarded.

It seems fitting that Shearwater should release something so daring and mystical this time around. It's a milestone record in a few ways - namely that it's the tenth, but also because it arrives on the heels of their longest-ever gap between full-lengths. The Great Awakening seems indicative of that prolonged creative and emotional reflection, offering us something starkly different from anything we've received from this band in recent years but that also feels elaborately composed and thoroughly cultivated. There's depth within depth.

Casual passers-by will take note of the obvious highlights: 'Highgate's explosions, 'No Reason's spectral atmosphere, the ominous prowl of 'Laguna Seca's beat, the fervent rock energy that 'Empty Orchestra' emits, the breathtakingly spacious 'There Goes The Sun'...yet, immersion is absolutely demanded of the listener in order to draw out this work's greatest rewards. It's sort of like a night spent camping deep in the woods; the campire s'mores will satisfy your immediate cravings, but what you'll remember in the end is how you felt when you stayed up all night, stared into the constellations overhead, and felt your own presence within the universe, within nature. The Great Awakening is not a sonic one, but if you give it the attention that it deserves, then it just might become a personal one.

This is an album that slithers and slinks more than it struts. It fades to and fro, blurs the edges, and disorients. It's uncompromising in this approach, which could deter some listeners who are eager for quicker gratification than what Shearwater is willing to give, but that's also why The Great Awakening feels entirely genuine. It's a dark, gorgeous, twisted, spine-tingling experience that is able to pull off such a decelerated pace because it owns that pace entirely, injecting it with haunting rhythms and naturalistic beauty. It was undoubtedly a risk, but The Great Awakening feels like stumbling upon a well-kept secret.



s
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user ratings (22)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
June 12th 2022


41752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This was barely on the fringe of my radar for things to listen to this week, and I certainly had no intentions to review it, but this album has really sunk its claws into me. It just feels special. Took me 2-3 listens for it to really begin to sink in.

Digging: Anberlin - Silverline

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2022


4067 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I already intended to check this, but this review solidifies it. Sounds great, nice review!

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2022


17426 Comments


Is this your (quickly doesn't check profile) first review of the year?

Sowing
Moderator
June 12th 2022


41752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nope. I'm slowing down, and my days of writing 100+ reviews in a year are likely over, but this is actually my third of 2022 and I have a few more lined up this summer (Regina Spektor, Souveneer, Domestic Terminal).



As far as this record goes, it's among the band's most subtle efforts but also the most rewarding upon continued unraveling. My first spin was a light 3.5, second spin was a 4, then third/fourth convinced me to review this even higher. I love the slow-burning weirdness of it all.

DoofDoof
June 12th 2022


11891 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Need to get back to this - seemed a partial return to the Island Arc period, have the feeling it’ll grow hence an initial 3.5 after one spin

Sowing
Moderator
June 12th 2022


41752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's a crazy grower for sure. I wasn't even all that interested the first time around, now it has Top 10 of 2022 potential. Maybe it's just because I hardly ever listen to music this subtle (lol), but in a weird way it reminds me of Noonday Dream (in how it unraveled for me, not its sonic qualities).

anat
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2022


4905 Comments


Always found his voice akin to unsolicited sonic grooming

Sowing
Moderator
June 12th 2022


41752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I don't know what that means but I take it you don't like his voice, haha



His vocals aren't my favorite thing in the world but they fit perfectly with this style of music

nightbringer
June 12th 2022


2566 Comments


Will check check check.

anat
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2022


4905 Comments


They’re just a bit leery sounding to me, proper nails on a chalkboard effect and I struggle to get past it :-(

Sowing
Moderator
June 12th 2022


41752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ah OK I figured haha. Yeah his voice definitely isn't for everyone.

Gyromania
June 12th 2022


34799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Golden archipelago is the last of their albums I remember liking. I'll check this out

Sowing
Moderator
June 12th 2022


41752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Just be ready for a slow and fairly minimal grower!

Underflow
June 13th 2022


5269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I love his voice.

pizzamachine
June 13th 2022


17810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lacuna Seca is so good.

Romulus
June 13th 2022


9067 Comments


happy to see these guys are still at it. golden archipelago was a fun and unique album, one of the first albums i found on here IIRC. haven't listened in ages

DoofDoof
June 13th 2022


11891 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Rook was always my favourite, Golden Archipelago second

Sowing
Moderator
June 13th 2022


41752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Lacuna Seca was what initially hooked me which is why I embedded that one, but honestly there's so much beauty to unearth here. Right now I'm wondering if Xenarthan or Milkweed - two that I initially overlooked - could end up emerging as the best here.



Although I love Golden Archipelago, it's also gotta be Rook as my top Shearwater as well. This has a very good chance (honestly, it now seems likely) to displace it at #1 in the discography though.

pizzamachine
June 13th 2022


17810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It’s a very beautiful album. I got serious Bjork vibes sometimes, don’t know about y’all.

Sowing
Moderator
June 13th 2022


41752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I can't testify to that one way or the other because I never really got into Bjork. All I know is that every time I listen to this it sounds better than the time before. The back half of the album was an initial weak point for me, but now that stretch is unfurling in beautiful and stunning ways.



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