Here’s something fun to try: stick your hand into a bag of jellybeans and blindly shove into your mouth whatever multi-colored spices you grasp.
With all likelihood, the resulting flavor will be something that is best described as a licorice-coated insult to your taste buds.
Separately, the flavors all taste just fine, but when mixed together something so disgustingly vile is created that not even a starving dog would eat it.
Upon listening to the latest release from Texas-based indie rockers Okkervil River, “The Stand Ins,” it is quite apparent that the ghastly outcome that may occur when several seemingly tasty components are mixed together that have absolutely no place being combined.
Individually, the pieces that make up Okkervil River are all worthy of some acclaim.
Lead singer Will Sheff’s vocals are reminiscent of the voices of well-known singers Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground, and Ted Leo of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.
Although strong on their own, the constant changes in Sheff’s tonal levels take away from the melancholically sweet bass sounds, which the lead singer is able to put forth on tracks such as the fast paced “Lost Coastlines,” and the depressingly somber Blue Tulip.
The instrumental backings on “The Stand Ins” fall prey to the same lack of consistency as Sheff’s vocals.
The album is plagued by three short, droningly hallucinogenic instrumental tracks, which have absolutely no connection to any of the other songs on the album.
The instrumentals work best when the band is able to call upon the country roots they were granted by being born as native Texans.
“Singer Songwriter” is by far the album’s most effective track, with Sheff’s lyrics telling the cynical tale of a wealthy woman in love with a musician, and the sound of a resonator casually reverberating the story in the ears of the listener.
The biggest defining error Okkervil River makes on “The Stand Ins,” aside from the monstrosities that are the album’s three purely instrumental tracks, is the wanton addition of unneeded instruments on tracks that would sound supremely superior if left in their minimalist form, but resulting in a disjointed jumble of horns and percussion when added to the final copy.
This can be vividly heard on the track “Calling and Not Calling My Ex” as an overdosing organ and obnoxious tambourine take away from the song’s simplistic but effective bass line.
Although, it is apparent that the members of Okkervil River possess a world of talent, what is produced on “The Stand Ins” reaffirms the fact that sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
If after reading this review you are still inclined to go out and purchase “The Stand Ins”, than I can only recommend that before doing so, jam as many flavors of jelly beans you can into your mouth, and let the putrid taste overwhelm your senses.
Once you have done this, think again about what you are prepared to spend your money on, and if you are truly willing to pay for a violation to your eardrums.