Music » CD Reviews

Okkervil River

Black Sheep Boy (Jagjaguwar)

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Singer Will Sheff is certainly not the first white boy to immerse himself so thoroughly in suburban stoner-bud angst that he sounds damn near British (see Conor Oberst, Ben Kweller). So it's less than surprising that every so often, he comes across as valedictorian of the Robert Smith School for Sensitive Goths.

Not that there's anything wrong with this, because lyrically, Okkervil River sounds like just about what you'd expect from New Hampshire natives who named their band after an obscure Russian short story. Literate, heart-wrenching torment abounds, from the thematic melancholy coursing through "In a Radio Song" and "So Come Back, I Am Waiting" to Sheff's vitriolic screams for vengeance as he recounts a forced abduction on "Black" ("I could tear his throat, spill his blood between my jaws, and erase his name out for good"). It's the most Cure-like track, on a disc more iridescent than its titles would lead you to believe.

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