Animal Joy

BY Michael EdwardsPublished Feb 21, 2012

The density of Shearwater's discography is more than a little overwhelming. Formed as a side-project for Jonathan Meiburg, while still a member of Okkervil River, it didn't take very long for them to shake the notion that they were simply a lesser version of their parent band. They've developed wonderfully to create some incredibly literate music that takes a certain amount of patience to appreciate. That was true of their last album, The Golden Archipelago, the final part of a trilogy, which even came with a substantial booklet of photos and other material to help explain what was going on. That's why Animal Joy, the band's first record for Sub Pop, is actually a good starting point for newcomers. It's unburdened by obligatory connections to what's come before and as a result, has a renewed amount of energy. It also demonstrates every side of the band beautifully, from smouldering introspection ("Insolence") to shimmering urgency ("You As You Were") and suddenly Shearwater are very accessible. In a world where the National have broken through and late career Talk Talk are finally getting their due, Shearwater have the potential to be immense, as they inhabit a very similar place. This could very well be the album to do it.
(Sub Pop)

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