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Animal Joy

4.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Sub Pop is proud to present Shearwater's Animal Joy, our first album by the band and their eighth overall. Led by Jonathan Meiburg, and featuring drummer Thor Harris, and bassist Kimberly Burke, Shearwater has been a favorite at Sub Pop HQ for years. On Animal Joy, Meiburg ditches the expansive approach of his recent records particularly the epic trilogy of Palo Santo, Rook and The Golden Archipelago to create a record that seems shockingly direct, immediate and intensely personal. He's no stranger to lush, crafted recordings, but this one sounds like no prior Shearwater incarnation.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 14, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • ASIN: B006MGC4EG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,520 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Dear Music Appreciators,

I am new to the world of Shearwater. As a virgin traveler of this musical landscape, if I had to choose one word to describe what I've been hearing I think it would be this:

Intense.

Big sound. Big ideas. Powerful high-register vocals and tightly wound, nature-themed lyrics such as:

"...chasing down an anodyne and half-reflected radiance to hide below the ancient barricade/in chambers like the rooms a swallow made/for an animal life..."

This kind of probing intelligence combines with thumping drums and throbbing guitar lines in the opening tracks "Animal Life" and "Breaking the Yearlings" to broadcast a kind of musical "barbaric yawp" from the top of Mt. Shearwater, and I couldn't help but move to the edge of my seat and take notice. "Dread Sovereign" pulls back on the reins for a more reflective mood, but the galloping-down-the-mountain tempo returns with "You As You Were" and "Immaculate." And whether the band sets the pace fast, slow, or somewhere in between, the intensity never seems to falter.

This is legendary-sounding indie rock that tries to put its finger on man's ancient pulse in the natural world. This kind of music commands attention.

Sincerely,

Constant Listener
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Format: Audio CD
tl;dr summary: Animal Joy is an energetic record that doesn't lose the depth and quality of the last three. Shearwater fans are almost certain to love it, and people who were turned off in the past should give it a try. Sure to be one of my albums of the year.

I've been a Shearwater fan since they released the incredible Palo Santo (Bonus CD) (Exp) (Dig) in 2007. I loved 2008's Rook and 2010's The Golden Archipelago equally. They're frequently treated as a trilogy, but I've always thought that overblown. They differ in subject matter, instrumentation, even lyrical style. Palo Santo lyrics seem almost Shakespearean or King James Biblical, Rook sounds like the Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales, Golden Archipelago like poetry from a war front.

They do share qualities: high stakes in the subject matter, images drawn from the natural world, an unapologetically dramatic bent to the performances (but fully appropriate to the songs), excellent musicianship, dense and rich soundscapes, and the unearthly voice of Jonathan Meiburg. Despite these common qualities, some people who liked Palo Santo were put off by the conceptiness and remoteness of Rook and TGA. I can understand: many people want songs that can relate directly to their own lives.

Animal Joy succeeds at splitting the difference: it's an album about people, about love and betrayal and loss and overcoming grief. But it doesn't lose sight of the wider world or indulge in mopiness or excessive navelgazing.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I am new to Shearwater having discovered this album on mog. For the first few moments, I did not like the singer's voice. Since then I've become more and more enchanted with this album. After a few spins I came to amazon to purchase it.

The rich, dark yet melodic sound is almost tailor-made for my music tastes. This band's talent, skill, wit, and heart are readily apparent.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Jonathan Meiburg plays quite a few instuments on Shearwater's "Animal Joy," perhaps spendin a bit too much time trying his hand at so many varied ones, leaving drummer Thor Harris and bassist Kimberly Burke the job of putting some fire into some of the tracks.

Meiburg's vocals and penchant for mixing in odd effects and unexpected sounds works well for headphone listening, perhaps not quite as well for those times when one wants to twist the volume knob a bit more to the right.

The songs and lyrics are interesting, if not a bit artsy for artsy sake at times, but this crisply recorded set of songs offers enough tweaks and twists to keep it from languishing with those Decemberists' CDs I just cannot bring myself to break out.

All in all, "Animal Joy" proves solid throughout and has some transcendent moments. For me, this recording falls short of 5 stars, just on the cusp of 4 really. The CD packaging is my favorite so far in 2012, though.
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Format: Audio CD
I first heard Shearwater on an NPR story on the South by Southwest Festival. The first song I heard on that report about 5 years ago was Hail Mary from Palo Santo. Their sound absolutely gripped me. I immediately had to buy the album and wasn't disappointed. I've since bought every one of their albums or live downloads I can get my hands on. I reserve listenting to any of their albums for periods when I can play their album straight thru because it is gripping and meant to be heard that way.

I have only listened to Animal Joy 3 times so far on Mog, but am expecting the CD for my birthday soon. As other reviewers have stated (spot on), this album may be their most accessible. But this doesn't mean its a step down for the masses or for those who have already found and enjoy this band. It's still, and even more so, a gorgeous soundscape of layered instrumentaiton and voice. So well recorded and produced with great dynamic range and clarity. Each songs pretty much stands on its own, but again I have to listen to this album all the way thru. On a good sound system or good headphones you can get totally lost and immersed in this album. If Aracade Fire, AA Bondy, Bon Iver, Band of Horses or the Fleet Foxes can break thru with their music, this band absolutely should. Their music is every bit as good and better IMO than most of these (which I also like) and somehow even more satisfying. It doesn't lose its grip for me like Band of Horses or Fleet Foxes has because Shearwater's instrumentation, dynamic range and soundscape is much more complex, diverse and interesting. The genius talent and craftsmanship behind this music is so compelling and this album feels like their (Jonathan Meiburg's) breakthrough.

I've never seen Shearwater yet, but am looking to. Maybe Monday night in Baltimore.
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