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Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
Label: Jagjaguwar
Release: 2005

Black Sheep Boy
For Real
In a radio song
Get Big
A King and a Queen
A Stone
The Latest Toughs
song for our so called friend
So come back, I am waiting
A glow
Black Sheep Boy - Okkervil River
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Average Blamo User Rating: (7 votes)

There are points in this album that are so emotionally powerful and earnestly resonant that sometimes when I hear Will Sheff’s wail of “you can’t Hide!” from ‘For Real’ or “we were hiding from the sun!” on ‘the latest toughs’ or, most notably, the entire last minute or so of ‘comeback, I am waiting’, I just want to turn to whoever’s closest to me, clock them in the side of the head and yell “HOLY FUCKING HELL THIS IS GOOD!”.

To make a long story short, this is one of the most touching albums I have ever heard. At points it gives me butterflies in my stomach, chills down my spine and tears down my eyes. It is a concept album, but not in the sense of unifying thematic overtones or allusions to an overarching narrative, but rather held together by a profoundly touching portrait of a profoundly human character.

Its titular character is flawed yet passionate creature of sincerity and heartfelt (if misplaced) affection. As usual, Will Sheff’s fairytale like imagery and metaphorically prose allude and intertwine seamlessly with the documentation of the tragic and dark realism that our (anti) hero inhabits.

In ‘Black’ our doting devoted black sheep boy confesses his love by promising revenge and absolution for unmentionable crimes of his loves father with “But if I could tear his throat, and spill his blood between my jaws, and erase his name out for good, don’t you know that I would? Don't you realize that I wouldn’t pause, that I would cut him down with my claws if I could have somehow never let that happen?”. An earnest gesture so inherently sweet and at the same time so remarkably horrifying that it shines as a statement of the beautiful intentions and misguided passion that haunts our character.

But it is Will Sheff’s mournful longing howls roars and whispers that give the Black Sheep Boy the momentum to push his ram’s horns passed the flesh and bone of the listener and into its heart. The quavering, yearning nature of his voice leaks thru every word, giving a tenderness to the most violent of threats and a heartbreaking desperation to every scream, moan and wail, a desperation so potent it will knock you flat on your ass if you let it. This performance gives the character such a vibrant and three-dimensional emotional texture that the listener might want to take the black sheep boy in a warm embrace and shield his from his own rampant passion and volatile behavior.

Despite the slower moments interspersed throughout the middle, the whole second side of the LP (fuck you, I go by sides sometimes) is a stirring emotional epic and one of the most deeply human statements put to plastic so far this century.

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