Black Sheep Boy - Okkervil River
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Okkervil River continue to deliver the quality of Down the River of Golden Dreams, and though sonic evolution is barely existent from that recording, perhaps it doesn't need to be; certainly Sheff's songwriting still floats above that of his peers.
  2. Consistently excellent, Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy is a record that stuns on first listen, then manages the elusive -- it sinks deep into your soul.
  3. Black Sheep Boy creates a roomy and natural showcase for Sheff's high-wire vocals, and as a result, it may be the band's best album.
  4. Brave and ambitious. [Jul 2005, p.122]
  5. 70
    Sheff's novelistic lyrics and the dextrous blend of country, folk and nervy indie-rock suggest a band approaching the peak of their powers. [Aug 2005, p.87]
  6. 80
    Far from being a doomfest, the music is quite beautiful. [Oct 2005, p.114]
  7. While Sheff occasionally wanders into coffee shop open mic territory, spouting overwrought poetry, he is often able to drag himself from the muck with a clever line or an inspired musical passage. [#9, p.108]
  8. An unknown quantity to me before the first listen, by the third play I was already plotting which of my friends I would be lending it to and reprimanding myself for not having come across them sooner.
  9. It could be a recipe for pretentious folly, but Sheff harnesses his intricate arrangements and barbed, literate lyrics to cracking tunes.
  10. [Sheff's] uncompromisingly literate songs provide unusually rewarding payoffs. [May 2005, p.124]
  11. It is heavier on quality than most Bright Eyes albums I could name -- both musically and lyrically.
  12. Sheff’s delivery, however, is the Black Sheep Boy’s biggest flaw.
  13. With Black Sheep Boy, Okkervil River have made the kind of minor classic that will inspire obsessive-compulsive love affairs with the lucky people who stumble upon it.
  14. These are essentially songs of innocence and experience tinctured by world-weariness simultaneously infused with an earnest lack of guile. A brief criticism would be: a little more sound and a little less fury, please Will.
  15. What's most exciting about ''Black Sheep Boy'' is that Okkervil River sounds more than ever like a band. [9 Apr 2005]
  16. 80
    What strike most are Sheff's strained, impassioned vocals and the joyful variety of instrumentation. [#67, p.110]
  17. The force of Okkervil's last LP, '03's Down the River of Golden Dreams, is strengthened and stretched on Black Sheep Boy, bursting with the heaviness of heart.
  18. I've listened to this album more than anything else released this year, and I still don't feel like I've fully explored its depths.
  19. It's hard not to stare in open-mouthed amazement at the sheer brilliance of Black Sheep Boy, though you're trying to clinically dissect all the elements that make it so.
  20. Black Sheep Boy has bold ambitions, but Okkervil River hasn’t quite reached the point where polished execution equals or surpasses preliminary concept.
  21. It's like Bright Eyes -- urgent, personal, pent-up -- but better; less focused on the individual ego of the "creative genius," more about the group dynamics.
  22. By album's end, two coming-of-age stories are complete: the boy has grown into a black sheep man, and the literate musicians have become a hell of a rock band.
User Score
9.3

Universal acclaim- based on 83 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 56 out of 58
  2. Negative: 1 out of 58
  1. RobT
    Jul 5, 2009
    10
    Black Sheep Boy is a masterpiece on level with NMH's Aeroplane Over the Sea.
  2. Sep 1, 2014
    10
    Quite possibly the most underrated album of all time. This is indie folk at its finest. I've listened to this album hundreds of times but, unlike other albums, I seem to never get tired of it. Full Review »
  3. Jun 6, 2011
    7
    Solid effort, nothing that'll blow your mind but it's worth the money.