The jaunty folk rock of Okkervil River has always flirted with melodramatic emotion. Yet even as lead singer Will Sheff toys with angst, his emotions come with a literary wink. The Austin band's smart songs delve into grossly uncomfortable sides of love, friendship, and nostalgia with darkly Victorian elegance, like the Decemberists but with fewer pirates and smoother (though just as distinctive) vocals. And who, after all, doesn't need a little polished heartbreak? These wryly sensitive lyrics sync with upbeat, full instrumentals, and the addictive melodies have helped turn the band into understated indie darlings over the last few years.
Okkervil River's new single "Wake and Be Fine" continues the tradition of emotively ironic jams--its sixth album, I Am Very Far, comes out on May 10th and most tracks deliver the same charm one has come to expect. "Wake and Be Fine" as well as the strong "Lay of the Last Survivor" reinforce the band's lasting power on what seems, based on initial listens, like another winner of an album. The real magic of Okkervil River? Despite so much anxiety filling the lyrics, the band members hardly ever sound like they're whining; Okkervil River somehow manages to offer its laments from a position of vulnerably magnetic strength.
On iTunes: Okkervil River / "Wake and Be Fine"