With Okkervil River, Jonathan Meiburg plays auxiliary sideman to Will Sheff's angsty surveyor of pop-culture surplus. As frontman of Shearwater, Meiburg strips away modern-day anxieties and gets back to nature. Specifically, he's into birds — both the band and the title of its fifth album are named after them — and, presumably, the freedom that goes with having wings. Rook takes flight with a bunch of feathered-friend imagery and musical interludes featuring Renaissance-fair instruments like the hammer dulcimer. Meiburg often lifts his voice in a soaring falsetto, taking the songs to even grander heights. And on cuts like "Century Eyes," he even invents a new indie-rock sound: pastoral feedback.
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