Best Albums of 2008: #7: Okkervil River: The Stand-ins

7. Okkervil River: The Stand-ins

The Stand-Ins is slower and brighter than The Stage Names, albeit substantially more morbid. It takes up the sad, slow-motion suicides of the slightly-famous with such grace that they can hardly be cliché, and manages to sound considerably less depressing than the band’s earlier albums while doing it. It kind of reminds me, actually, of Zadie Smith’s novel, The Autograph Man, in which the characters waste their lives away but the book’s quirky tone distracts from the melancholy. Like Smith’s characters, Sheff’s are self-absorbed, entitled, and always fragile in their complexity. They are never just as they appear. We encounter them as they perceive themselves to be, and again as they are. In the space between narcissistic self-understanding and engagement with the world, real human dramas escalate into events far too serious to be understood through the lenses of fame or wealth. The Stand-ins ingeniously captures the moment in which being a rock star is not what its mythology promises, and for that alone, it was one of my favorite albums of this year.

Related posts:
Best of 2008: #8: MGMT: Oracular Spectacular
Best of 2008: #9: Streetlight Manifesto: Somewhere in the Between
Best of 2008: #10: M83: Saturdays=Youth
Best of 2008: #11: TV On the Radio: Dear Science
Best of 2008: #12: Mount Eerie: Lost Wisdom
Best of 2008: #13: Cloud Cult: Feel Good Ghosts
Best of 2008: #14: Ratatat: LP3
Best of 2008: #15: The Submarines: Honeysuckle Weeks
Best of 2008: #16: Grand Archives: S/T
Best of 2008: #17: Yelle: Pop-up
Best of 2008: #18: Parenthetical Girls: Entanglements
Best of 2008: #19: The Gaslight Anthem- The '59 Sound
Best of 2008: #20: Billy Bragg- Mr. Love and Justice
Best of 2008: Intro


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