The Silver Gymnasium

The Silver Gymnasium

Though Okkervil River hails from Texas, its frontman, Will Sheff, grew up in a small New Hampshire town (Meriden!). His songs probe his real and imagined experiences there for the seventh Okkervil River album, 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium. His snapshots aren’t far removed from the '70s settings of Freaks and Geeks or That ‘70s Show; despite being born in 1976, Sheff clings closer to the early-'80s experiences than anything from the latter half of the decade (he claims 1986, though 1983 would suffice). Fortunately, the band doesn’t try to re-create that era but settles into its usual fluid sense, where instruments from keyboards to guitars mess about, with everyone available to chip in on vocals. The rhythms bounce where applicable. Tunes such as “Down Down the Deep River,” “Where the Spirit Left Us,” and “All the Time Every Day” all skitter with the band’s usual nervous energy and tricky melodies—but with a streamlined sense now that the members have grown up and realized what’s really important.

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