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okkervil river - the stage names


This sat on my hard drive for quite some time, since the first 30 seconds of it really turned me off. Seriously, I was like, "What kind of emo crap is this?" But, you know, pitchfork gave it a really good review and I'm a sucker for that. Good thing I am, though, because this album is truly beautiful. Even that first emo song.

The Stage Names sets the stage in that first song by comparing life to a movie. Not a brand new theme, right? Life is not a movie, or perhaps, right? I wasn't too impressed.

But then, in the second song, Okkervil River makes it clear how they're gonna roll:

What gives this mess some grace unless it's kicks, man
Unless it's fiction
Unless it's sweat or it's songs

What hits against this chest unless it's a sick man's hand
From some midlevel band
He's been driving too long

That's right, he called them a midlevel band, and still is into it for kicks and fiction right? You and me both, baby. Check out the singer's solo acoustic version, which is pretty sweet.

Then, he hits his stride for real in Plus Ones, where he talks about the limits to numbered things like tears, luftballoons, and ways to leave your lover:

No one wants to hear about your 97th tear
So dry your eyes or let it go uncried, my dear
I am all out of love to mouth and to your ear
And not above letting a love song disappear before it's written
and then the (for me) total showstopper of A Girl In Port.
Let fall your soft and swaying skirt
Let fall your shoes
Let fall your shirt
I'm not the ladykilling sort
Enough to hurt
A girl in port

Even the most precious and potentially saccharine song, "Savannah Smiles", about accidentally reading one page of his daughter's diary and uncovering some kind of abuse is still a clever and gentlehearted song.

There's something special about this one... it's been probably since Iron and Wine dropped Shepherd's Dog that I've heard something so lyrically rich and sincere. The music's not bad either. ;)