The Stand Ins
Posted by Daniel Hall on July 23, 2008
Long time readers of this blog may suspect — and close friends of this blogger probably know — that Okkervil River is one of my favorite bands. This post has nothing to do with environmental economics so the rest of it goes below the fold…
I have heard the new album. It is very good. Fans of the band should get excited. But manage your expectations — this is less of a full album than a completion of The Stage Names.
From now on this album and TSN should be viewed as a single entity; there are clear thematic links throughout. This would make The Stand Ins seem like Black Sheep Boy Appendix, but in fact it is much stronger: 8 very good songs and 3 (short) instrumentals.
I cannot say exactly how good it is yet — I have not had time to make out most of the lyrics and these are an enormous part of Okkervil River’s charm. But based on the quality of the sound alone I would say that TSN/TSI will overtake the (combined definitive) Black Sheep Boy in my ranking of Okkervil River albums.
A few more random thoughts:
1. The name alone is brilliant, coming ever-so-slightly after TSN in an alphabetization. Combine that with the cover art, thematic links, and the (relative) consistency of sound and it is clear these albums should be viewed as one.
2. Okkervil River has now put out two extremely ambitious and successful concept albums in a row, BSB and TSN/TSI. But for my money Down the River of Golden Dreams remains their best album. (For that matter it is probably my favorite album this decade.)
3. I am very curious to read the lyrics to Blue Tulip. Is it intended to be a member of the “color series”? [In order: Red, Yellow, Black, and Savannah Smiles (Grey).] The test for me will be whether it continue the OR tradition of having the color song focus on parent-child relationships (although this might be interpreted broadly).
I will be pre-ordering the album as soon as I see it is out.