Shearwater – Rook (2008)
Although Shearwater have been around for nearly ten years now, they have only been seen as an outlet for lead singer Jeff Meiburg to use the songs that didn’t quite fit in with his main band, Okkervil River (for which he used to co-write songs with mainman Will Sheff).
With 2006’s Palo Santo things started to look different though. The songwriting seemed more serious and more care was taken with the song arrangements. This was further emphasized when the band were signed to Matador Records in 2007 and they re-recorded an even more superior version of Palo Santo. In 2008 Meiburg left
One can say that ‘Rook’ is the result of the full time devotion that Meiburg has given it throughout the past year. It’s a more full sounding, haunting and beautiful album that will leech itself to your brain upon first listening and making you want to marry it by the third spin. I know comparisons to other bands reeks of cheap journalism but I’m heavily reminded of Talk Talk’s ‘Spirit of Eden’
It’s also a deeply emotional record and Meiburg makes his pain shine through the orchestral sweeps that color each song and it resonates deeply. Maybe there is some over emoting in some places (Lost Boys) but then the music creates a balance (The only exception to the rule is the in your face clanger ‘Century Eyes, which is out of place but an immense track in it’s own right)
Without doubt the standout in this all too brief 36 minute album is ‘The Snow Leopard’ at first it starts off with a piano motif, not dissimilar to Radiohead’s ‘Pryamid Song’ and then it evolves into this uplifting epic ballad. I have to admit that during the three weeks that I’ve had this record I always stop and listen to The Snow Leopard a couple of times before I progress to the final song.
With ‘Rook’, Meiburg has managed to shed the ‘Side Project’ feel of Shearwater and turn it into a band with a clear agenda. As a record it is unique and I doubt that anyone has heard an album that enraptures like this one, well at least till the next Shearwater release.