Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Okkervil River: 10.1.

It's so meta to discuss a Pitchfork review.

So please pardon me for being meta today, and for hyping like a U.K. critic.

Once again, unsurprisingly, Pitchfork disappoints with a gross underrating. This time it's Okkervil River's The Stage Names, which it scored a measly, non-ivy-league 8.7. The review insults the album by calling it merely "powerful," with an opening song that passes as "potent."

What else...

Here, buried at the end of the fourth paragraph, the review calls the album "artistically unsurpassable" and "emotionally devastating." I suppose that comes a little closer to doing The Stage Names justice, but I personally would have liked to have seen a smudge or two on the page where the tears fell as the reviewer listened and wrote.

And then skip down to the last paragraph, where the review calls the band "vastly talented," and offers that "these songs are so good and so moving that they only give us stupid, stubborn hope." Yes, they're good and moving - they will tie your heart into a knot, stop it cold, rip it open, then reassemble it and crank-start it again with an adrenaline lever. Will Sheff leaves his own heart on the page, and on the stage, as he did in his SXSW performance earlier this year, with lyrics like these, sung like a devastated man to a distant person in the upper stands:

What breaks the heart the most is some rock and roll fan
Exploding up from the stands
With her heart opened up
I want to tell her "your love isn't lost..."

...this lifted by a simple, unforgettable repeating riff straight from the heart of Purgatory, and closes with a guitar that chimes high the way that The Edge, or maybe Thurston Moore at his most heavenly, would do it.

It will give us stupid stubborn hope AND a modern classic that will provide a lifetime of listening for the musicophile, and may indeed be the defining moment in the creation of a generation of musicophiles.

And not only that. Nowhere in the review did it mention the financial wisdom in buying the album. Each track is worth the price of the album itself. So, at 9 tracks, it's worth about $135. You're going to get it for about $13.97 plus tax, which means you'll pocket the remaining $120. Monster savings!

Seriously, though, I'm glad to see that the review was glowing by PF standards, and hope that the band gets all the attention that it deserves. Still, I wonder: if The Stage Names, which is as perfect an album as you'll hear this year, and probably better than a lot of the classics that you've been listening to all your life, only gets an 8.7, then what does it take to get into the mid 9's?

Okkervil River - Unless It's Kicks (mp3)
Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe (Live at SXSW, 3-16-2007) (mp3)

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