Shearwater's 'Rooks' a Chiming Pop Charmer

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Rooks"
  • Artist: Shearwater
  • CD: Rook
  • Genre: Pop
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"Rooks" mixes Shearwater's slow-burning intensity with a welcome dose of propulsive hooks. courtesy of Shearwater hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of Shearwater

Still widely viewed as little more than an offshoot of Okkervil River — a band with which it bears virtually no sonic resemblance, and with which it now shares zero members — Shearwater has been making brilliant records for more than long enough to stand on its own. Mixing the swoony grace of Jeff Buckley with the inventiveness of Talk Talk, singer Jonathan Meiburg and company made Palo Santo a tenderly masterful powerhouse, not to mention the best album of 2006.

Now that a 2007 reissue of Palo Santo has brought Shearwater a bit of national attention, the band is ready to assert its rightful place as more than a mere word-of-mouth sleeper. And darned if the new Rook doesn't actually live up to that promise: The disc is dark and graceful, intermittently rocking, and uniformly excellent, making it an ideal showpiece for a band five albums into its career, yet still largely unknown on a grand scale.

Best of all is the sort-of title track "Rooks," which mixes Shearwater's slow-burning intensity with a welcome dose of chiming pop charm. For all the drama inherent in Meiburg's yearning falsetto and doomstruck words — "And we'll sleep until the world of man is paralyzed" — "Rooks" is, at its core, a propulsive, infectious, and utterly beguiling little rock song.

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