Okkervil River – In The Rainbow Rain – Album Review
“When I had my tracheotomy, I was blue and stopped breathing, there was something wrong with me.”
We are introduced to this album with one of the oddest songs of the year! Famous Tracheotomies does exactly what you would expect, it’s just slightly hard to believe they’re doing it. We get a short insight into the lives of the stars of yesteryear who had tracheotomies and lived to tell the tale. The list isn’t quite star studded, but we do hear about Gary Coleman (who was Arnold on TV), Mary Wells (who was known as Motown’s queen), Dylan Thomas (on a tour to promote his poetry) and more besides. It’s hard to fathom quite where this song came from but it is certainly unique. The song is complete with keys, sparky guitar, and swooning backing vocals!
The rest of the album goes to more conventional themes and ideas. The Dream and the Light is a sweeping soulful song with passionate lyrics and deepest sincerity. A saxophone solo allows the song fade into the distance. Love Somebody is an ode to different types of love with keyboards that continue the 80’s vibe.
“Just like you said about your old boyfriend
And how he screamed his wasted song to the wind
And also you were talking about the teenage mom
The cellar stairs that she was crying upon” – Love Somebody
Family Song is a more laid back tune, with plucked guitars feeding a late night bar vibe. Pulled Up The Ribbon has an epic feel with strong guitar and a driving drum beat. Don’t Move Back to LA is a light hearted pop song on a theme often used. Why LA is always singled out for this abuse is unclear! How It Is starts with drum machine, guitars and vocals. It slowly builds into one of the more interesting songs contained here. The album finishes with Human Being Song which is a slow and emotional tune about the troubles of being a human!
This is a period of transition for Okkervil River. This is their ninth release and with a new line up (other than lead singer Will Sheff) there is a definite divide between this and what has gone before. The album is something big and bold, but possibly doesn’t have enough variation in sound to really grab your attention, as one song slowly bleeds into the next. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable, just that they found a sound and wallowed in it. Worth checking out for the bizarre first song alone and you can explore it from there.
1. Famous Tracheotomies 04:55
2. The Dream and the Light 06:49
3. Love Somebody 04:14
4. Family Song 05:10
5. Pulled Up The Ribbon 04:12
6. Don’t Move Back To LA 04:39
7. Shelter Song 05:00
8. How It Is 03:34
9. External Actor 04:08
10. Human Being Song 06:10