Okkervil River I Am Very Far

Okkervil River I Am Very Far
Will Sheff and co. shed the warm, small-room atmosphere of past efforts for a more stadium-friendly ambience on their sixth full-length album. The Austin, TX quintet open I Am Very Far with "The Valley," a psych-rock track with Sheff's vocals booming at the forefront, Cully Symington's pounding beat marching the song from start to finish and a screeching string section vaguely reminiscent to the orchestral work on Britney Spears' "Toxic." It's the biggest they've ever sounded, but they don't sacrifice quality to achieve this change. After the opener, it takes a moment for the album to build. "Piratess" slows the progress of the first track, four minutes of wandering in circles around the same musical thought, but the album grows stronger with each subsequent song, ending with the album's finest number, "The Rise." Layered vocal parts allow for an erratic intro over a simple piano line, not letting the listener fully settle in. Eventually an orchestra enters while the pitter-patter of rim shots sooth the irregular verse structure. I Am Very Far is a triumph, reminding us that Okkervil River are indeed one of the finest bands today. (Jagjaguwar)