Okkervil River is a terrific band out of Austin who has an actual tie in to college radio, as frontman Will Sheff was a DJ before starting Okkervil River. They’ve succeeded in distinguishing themselves from other bands by being able to play both folk-rock and pop songs with extreme declarations, and Black Sheep Boy, The Stand Ins, and The Stage Names are all terrific complete albums previously released by the group. Unfortunately, The Silver Gymnasium doesn’t deserve to be placed in the same category of those albums, as Okkervil River ends up playing folk-pop with no real bite to it, and folk-pop is a pretty awful music genre.
This isn’t to say that the album is trash, because it’s still an album that you can enjoy listening to rather easily, but it misses the essential quality that makes Okkervil River interesting. This isn’t a complete shock as the album is about the childhood of Will Sheff and you lose the ability to write songs like “Westfall” and “Black” when you start with that theme, but one would hope that the album would at least sound more personalized than it does given that. It essentially becomes background music every time I’ve played it, and that’s really upsetting. Still, it’s not worth completely passing over and it might grow on people and even be enjoyed by random listeners, but Okkervil River fans like me were likely hoping for something different.
Track Picks: White, Down Down the Deep River, Pink-Slips