My most recent music purchase was “The Stage Names” by Okkervil River. I had never heard the band before, but made the purchase based on a review I read on Pitchfork Media. If you’ve never listened to the band, you need to pick up this album immediately. In the first song, Our Lives are Not a Movie or Maybe, the band screeches through a chorus of “Ooh, ooh’s” with a perfect resonance for pop music. The songs are energetic and well-crafted, as well as incredibly addicting. The band goes on to play two more songs, each perfect mixes of rock and pop sensibility. On the slightly off-kilter Unless It’s Kicks, the band repeats the verse, with each verse getting more steadily raucous, until the burgeoning last stretch, when the entire band loses itself to the emotion of the song, reaching a sort of blitzenkrieg shout/sing and letting the instruments do the talking.
Okkervil River plays art house indie, but never stretches the limits, making it radio-ready, but very intelligent at the same time. The lead singer, Will Sheff, maintains a beautiful baritone voice, and enjoys stretching it as high as possible on many tracks. The more he stretches his voice, the more the band builds until it hits a chorus, and you know it’s your turn to sing along. “The Stage Names” is an album that bears many repeats, and with each listen, one is able to find another golden nuance, earning itself an 8.7 out of 10 from me.