When it was announced that the Okkervil River's Will Sheff would be producing this year's I Am Very Far
, one wondered how much tighter the singer could hold the reins of his dramatic, graduate-level indie-rock band. But after three excellent almost-concept albums, Sheff and company free themselves from any overarching thematic or musical arc —
these songs range from the orchestral to the roughshod, and the players revel in the sonic looseness. But at its core, the record returns to Sheff's favorite songwriting topics, with lyrics on pop-song artifice and rock & roll myth making that are, of course, couched in flawless pop songcraft and mighty rock. Last Time:
Okkervil River's 2008 opening set for the New Pornographers blew the (albeit Neko-less) power-pop group out of the water. It wasn't even a fair fight.