Album review: Shearwater - Jet Plane And Oxbow
PUBLISHED: 12:26 26 January 2016
A bold and well-executed set from under-the-radar indie-rock veterans, writes Stephen Moore.
Sold as a “leap forward” for this cult indie outfit from Austin, Texas, Jet Plane And Oxbow certainly isn’t lacking in confidence, attention-grabbing dynamics or inspiration.
It’s a set of bold songs, from declamatory to melancholy, each embroidered with intricate arrangements - particularly for the oft-overlooked percussion, perhaps a result of recruiting film composer and percussionist Brian Reitzell, whose credits include The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation.
Frontman and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg sings with the conviction of The Twilight Sad’s James Graham and makes a genuine, heartfelt protagonist on which to hang these considered and confident songs, which revel in light and dark.
The driving, disorientating motorik of Radio Silence or Glass Bones exhilarate, Filaments delves into prog-lite with urgent percussion and extended chapters, while eerie sign-off Stray Light At Clouds Hill sends shivers down the spine.
These theatrics are set against the mellifluous and contemplative Backchannels and the tender and reflective, piano-led Wildlife In America.
There’s enough pop nous in here to beckon a mainstream audience, too; the strident, pumping A Long Time Away will appeal to Editors fans, the synth-driven Quiet Americans follows the ‘80s revival fashion, and Pale Kings embellishes familiar urgent refrains and chord progressions.
Looks like Meiburg’s confidence is justified.