Okkervil River – The Stand Ins

Can I just say here that I consider Will Sheff to be one of my favorite lyricists? There’s something in his words – the alliteration, the cadence, some combination of syllables – that just really really sounds pleasing to my ears.

Funny that the Pitchfork review of the album compared this and their last record to the Hold Steady, considering that Craig Finn is another of my beloved lyricists. For the same reasons. And the review hit on an interesting point – the two bands seem to be spouting themes that are diametrically opposed to each other. One posits that rock and roll can save us all, the other that it (and fame, and fortune) lead inevitably to downfall and despair.


  • The Hold Steady, “Constructive Summer”: “We’re gonna build something, this summer.”
  • Okkervil River, “Singer Songwriter”: “And your world is going to change nothing.”

Weird that I like both bands without reservation. Or maybe not so weird, since they’re both incredibly good at what they do. And incredibly convincing while they’re doing it.

The Stand Ins is good. Really really good. Can’t say yet though whether or not it’s as good as The Stage Names, as I haven’t spent nearly enough time with it yet. But I will be spending a LOT of time with it. With lyrics like these, how can I not?

“Sweetly sung and succinctly stated,
Words and music he calculated
to make you sing along
(with your stereo on,
as you stand in your shorts on your lawn)
get completely incorporated
by some couple who consummated
their first love by the dawn –
a falling star wished upon
that flashed in the sky and was gone.”
~ “Pop Lie”

Ah god, I love it when people put together strings of words like that. God forbid I ever meet and fall in love with a writer. It’s hard enough for me to deal with a crush on a photographer…