GENRE | DEVIL-IN-THE-DETAILS
VERDICT | HOPPIN’ GOLD
LABEL | ATO RECORDS
RELEASE | 9.3.13
It’s hard to find a harder-working or smarter band than Okkervil River, a group aggressively unafraid of high concepts. They once combined the Beach Boys and writer John Berryman’s suicide in one song, for Pete’s sake.
With The Silver Gymnasium (their first with ATO Records, ending the band’s six-album stay on Jagjaguwar) frontman Will Sheff explores his own past in Meriden, N.H. circa 1986, a town that seems to have a personal mythology of its own for the bandleader since he moved away as a boy. As Sheff sets The Silver Gymnasium square in the heart of his own childhood, the album consists of his own autobiographical memories while taking musical cues from the era.
The band plays fast and loose with the subtle synthesizers of 1980s pop rock.
Despite the pitfalls of nostalgic subject matter, they take care to balance ’80s era iconography with the wit and craft that have become staples of the band’s sound.
From cheerfully bouncy to spitting feedback to whispering the most intimate memories, The Silver Gymnasium proves to be a treat for veteran fans and newcomers alike.