Boomkat Product Review:
For newcomers it's worth pointing out that Shearwater have been going since 2001, established as a side-project between Okkervil River bandmates Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff. Shearwater is a rather more quietened and nuanced project than Okkervil, however, and seems inextricably linked to the natural world. Meiburg's a keen ornithologist (hence the band name) and with The Golden Archipelago wraps up a trilogy of albums drawing themes from the impact human beings have had on the environment. This is ushered in immediately by 'Meridian', the opening track which begins with the national anthem of the Bikini Atoll being sung by its exiled former residents, forced to relocate because of nuclear testing in the region. From here onwards the album pursues a reverent, cinematic tone that manages to attain a certain air of grandeur that never dips into explosive gestures or heavy post-rock style effects, instead Meiburg's borderline otherworldly presence as a vocalist melts into the arrangements on tracks like 'Landscape At Speed' and the wispy, tuned percussion vistas of 'Hidden Lakes'. There's a similar effortlessness to pieces like the wonderfully intricate, string-coated 'An Insular Life' and 'Uniforms', whose epic qualities stem from well-placed marimba motifs as much as they do distorted drums and Pink Floyd-like rock operatics. An excellent and uncommonly mature record - recommended.