Listening to Okkervil River’s new album, In the Rainbow Rain, today gave me an excuse to dive, once again, into their back catalog. I am a huge fan of the band’s 2005-2008 work, a trifecta of literate rock albums: Black Sheep Boy, The Stand Ins, and The Stage Names. Each of these albums is a staggering artistic achievement; each song on them is an evocative short story with enough weight, depth, and maturity to reward repeated listenings.
I haven’t spent nearly as many hours listening to their work since then, which which includes The Silver Gymnasium and Away. This, more recent, period is characterized by a darker, more somber tone. It’s easy to imagine the band’s frontman, and only consistent member now, Will Sheff, slowing down, looking back on life, and looking far forward to his eventual death. That’s way heavier stuff than what I normally listen to, but not too heavy to be enjoyable.