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4.3 out of 5 stars8
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on February 17, 2010
Musically, Shearwater has taken a leap forward with this album. Mostly up-tempo tracks (very unusual for the group) with dense, rhythmic instrumentation, it's obvious that the theme behind the album has charged the band full of a potent and exciting energy. As someone who's only in it for the songs, without the benefit of the enormous informative booklet sold with the CD version, I feel like I might be missing an integral part of the experience, however, as the lyrics do not quite seem up to par.

Their previous albums contain lyrics that conjure haunting images or clear stories. The song "Rooks" is a master class in doomsday lyricism, and "Leviathan, Bound", while abstract, features the powerful statement "You are racing, alone" to anchor the song. The same is true with phenomenal tunes like "Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five" and the apocalyptic images of "Red Sea, Black Sea". The Golden Archipelago, on the other hand, seems to get lost in vague phrases that almost betray the power of the music and Jonathan Meiburg's incredible voice. For example, the fury of "Corridors" is similar to that of their previous track, "Century Eyes", but without the fascinating openly interpretable but evocative lyrics featured in the latter song.

While it's possible that Meiburg et. al. got a bit lost in this island-hopping concept, the album still stands as a fantastic sonic journey from one of the most interesting bands out there right now (with, I might add, one of my personal favorite vocalists of all time -- From his manic howls to his mournful falsetto, Meiburg is vocally in top form here). I greatly look forward to a future combination of their new found orchestration and their older, more open lyrical masterpieces.
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on February 19, 2010
First off, my review is for the vinyl release which came direct from Matador Records.

I've been a Shearwater fan since "Rook", and have gone back and listened to some of their earlier efforts after-the-fact. Their new album is generally more upbeat to the point where I could consider them to fall into an "Indie rock" genre. I think this is a fantastic new album and could certainly add to their fan-base.

The standout track for me is "Castaways". It hooks you as soon as the chorus kicks in and doesn't let go until the final note - one of those rare songs that you don't have to wait for it to grow on you (If I were running the Grammy's, I would be putting this song in the running for best song of the year). But, the rest of the tracks on the album are quite good, as well - as a cohesive whole, it's very satisfying and I can easily play it from beginning to end with no track skipping. That's quite an achievement.

Do I like it better than "Rook" and their earlier efforts? Yes, I do. Five stars, and a big thumbs up. Well done.
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on April 3, 2010
I have listened only a couple times to the cd, but it did not disappoint. The only defect I heard in Rook was too much falsetto. I like the falsetto, but it seemed to be the main singing style on every song. Still a great album.

This time it is tuned down a little. And the song writing is as strong as ever.

Those are my only comments so far.
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on February 2, 2011
I have listened to this CD for three weeks now, having gotten accustomed to it and having experienced all the diversities ans subtleties of the album I can say Shearwater has certainly evolved into a more robust, genre-defining band compared to their previous efforts. People who like subtle soft rock fused with good melodies, tight bass and drums, epic, emotional and strong vocals with great choruses will find a good proposal here (think a bit of Marillion with small hints of Pink Floyd and a lot of new elements)...the production is great, all the instruments stand out perfectly but the vocal are the key element here, soulfulness is the the right description...great record to listen to while traveling. If anything described above is of interest to you, do yourself a favor and buy the CD...4 stars but I'm sure time and a few more listens will make me give it the fifth..
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on December 24, 2010
This band is amazing. Jonathan Meiburg's ability to create a melody that captivates, enthralls, and evokes a pure and beautiful scene is unparalleled by anyone else in Indie music, with the possible exception of Bon Iver. Do not miss this band.
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on September 29, 2010
If you've never heard this group, you owe it to yourself to listen. I first heard them on our local public radio station - specifically track 8 on the CD. One of the tracks I'm not crazy about, but the rest are pure magic.
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on November 29, 2010
Buy this music now,you wont be disappointed,the sound flows through like your in the room with the band.i hope this band gets the attention it so richly deserves.
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on May 27, 2010
I'd not heard of this band before this release was reviewed in the Chicago Tribune. The reviewer could barely say enough about it. He used words like "original" and "rich." I checked out the band right hear at Amazon and was surprised to see the number of releases they had under their belt and how well their fans liked them. I thought, maybe, being an Indie band, they just never entered my radar. So.....I dropped the bucks and took my chance. I lost.

The first time I listened to it I really didn't care for it. But then I thought maybe it has to grow on you. I tried it a second time and thought "No. This just isn't that good." I tried a third time and never made it all the way through. It bordered on painful.

The songs are weak at best. The melodies are so vapid as to nearly fall apart under their own weightlessness. I think the lead singer has a terrible voice. My guess is he writes the tunes as well because no one in their right mind would hire him as a lead singer. There were some nice instrumental passages but that was about it.

A good song delivers a sense of ownership. You feel the investment, the emotion the singer or band has in the piece. I heard no sense of ownership here. It were as though someone else wrote the material and handed it to them with just enough time to get it recorded.

If you're a fan of these guys you'll probably like this as it already has good user reviews here. If you're not familiar with them, you might want to give this a pass. It's pretty terrible.
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