Shearwater – Animal Joy

Shearwater has become among my favorite bands over the past several years. Their most recent album, Animal Joy, marked a shift in sound after the majestic art-rock of the Island Arc Trilogy albums, Palo Santo, Rook, and The Golden Archipelago. On Animal Joy, Shearwater scales back their majesty in favor of a more straight-forward rockier approach. It is applaudable to see bands change things up from time to time, but it is another question as to whether or not they can maintain a particular level of quality. Animal Joy makes a good attempt at that. Although I still prefer the albums of the Island Arc Trilogy, Shearwater made a valiant effort with this more straight-forward approach and leaves plenty of room to go in different directions on future albums. The album opens with the piano driven Animal Life that demonstrates the style of this album that still retains Jonathon Meiburg’s majestic vocal style. Meiburg has some incredible strong vocals, a great range, and one of the defining characteristics of Shearwater. Breaking the Yearlings is my favorite track on this album and also their rockiest. It has an epic anthemic feel augmented by Meiburg’s vocals, Thor Harris’ drums, and keyboards. Dread Sovereign changes gears with a slower song and more personal lyrics. The lyrics on Animal Joy are much more personal than in prior releases, such as in Insolence, which is a slow track with drums that build to an epic emotional piece. You As You Were is a fast piano track and Immaculate is a driving rock song. The first half of the album shows the range Shearwater is capable of and their ability to play stand-alone tracks. The second half of the album continues with the same style of the first half, but does not seem to have stand-out tracks in the latter half. The second half shows Shearwater tinkering with ideas explored in the first half with some solid tracks, such as Run the Banner Down and Pushing the River. Animal Joy shows a band that is willing and wanting to go in promising different directions. It has some of Shearwater’s finest tracks, but also some that are missing something. Only time will tell where they go, but in the meantime, Animal Joy is a good addition to Shearwater’s excellent discography.

Genre: Indie Rock
Country: USA
Label: Sub Pop
Release: February 28, 2012

1 – Animal Life
2 – Breaking The Yearlings
3 – Dread Sovereign
4 – You As You Were
5 – Insolence
6 – Immaculate
7 – Open Your Houses (Basilisk)
8 – Run The Banner Down
9 – Pushing The River
10 – Believing Makes It Easy
11 – Star Of The Age

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