Okkervil River are one of those bands that quietly plug along, releasing epic albums without ever receiving the attention lavished so freely on others, yet flying over the head all too easily of the Texas based group.
So its pleasing that Okkervil River haven't shifted away from their roots, indeed, the horns and strings are paramount throughout 'The Stage Names' something that was at the forefront of their last effort 'Black Sheep Boy'.
And as ever, lyrically, Okkervil River are just about on a par with anyone. Opener, 'Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe', (if the title isn't enough to convince you....) has lines that leap from enticing to being cuttingly abrupt, all of the duration sucking the listener into the heart and mind of frontman Will Sheff.
'Our Life....' is certainly the standout track of the LP, "It's just a bad movie" Sheff cries out effortlessly, as the palm-muted guitar chords kick in. Sheff's raw, unrefined vocals make this track as it continues through a rather pleasing mix of guitar/piano instrumental. "It's Just a House Burning / But It's Not Haunted / It Was Your Hurting / But For Not Too Long" he sings rather ironically.
Despite that luscious first track, 'The Stage Names' is far from being a concept album, every track is unrelated, but each song is somehow perfectly adjoined by the flamboyancy of O.R.
'Unless It Kicks' is perhaps the most commercial track off the LP, 'Savannah Smiles' and 'A Girl In Port' take the group up a notch in terms of inventiveness, with the latter song an unconceited piano and steel guitar balad, showing the band has an almost unique multi-faceted approach, nigh-on unseen in today's modern music environment.
'The Stage Names' weighs in with a rather modest nine tracks altogether, and final track 'John Allyn Smith Sails' stomps along before coming to an abrupt ending with Sheff wailing: "So Broke Up / I Wanna Go Home".
It certainly leaves you wanting more, but in a good way, because Okkervil River have gone about this their fifth studio LP, and have refined the areas they needed, but kept the classic nougat centre of Okkervil River, developing an Indie Rock sound that might just get them that attention they so thoroughly deserve.