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Okkervil River

The SIlver Gymnasium

Okkervil River
7
Okkervil River occupy an intriguing conceptual space: part folk band, part rock band, part folk-statement on the rock band. Their best-loved album, Black Sheep Boy, took narrative inspiration from heroin-addled folk icon Tim Hardin, while 2011's I Am Very Far married a parody of rock'n'roll glory with its thrilling embodiment, shearing the band's folk roots. Seventh record The Silver Gymnasium is band leader Will Sheff's foray into autobiography, a milestone he apparently deems quite the occasion. The music is bombastic, almost self-consciously so; it's gaudily elegant, polished yet wild. Meanwhile, Sheff — ever the lexical Lothario — crafts first-person accounts of his unglamorous '80s experience, a many-branched chandelier of small-town bit-players and family traumas. Though his returning to childhood might strike the cynic as a retreat from the perceptive I Am Very Far (only the mesmerizing "Walking Without Frankie" extends the personal to the social), the showmanship and pomp of The Silver Gymnasium render youthful curiosity and naivety with dazzling honesty. (ATO)
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