Okkervil River makes happy music for sad people. The act's lo-fi indie rock is alternately cheerless and hilarious, fragile and burly, beautiful and dissonant. With largely acoustic instrumentation, touches of Americana and a notebook full of reflections on love, loss and longing, primary Okkervil auteur Will Sheff crafts the kind of beautiful, unassuming pop masterpieces we've come to expect from the indie heartland. The band's most recent release, Black Sheep Boy, literally takes a page from Tim Hardin's songbook -- the title song is Hardin's -- to frame a sort of concept album about, well, a black sheep. Okkervil's scarecrow love songs of ecstatic melancholy will please fans of Hardin's spiritual descendants Bright Eyes, Palace and Iron & Wine, as Sheff's endearingly cracked vocals wander languidly from a whisper to a dream.
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