I Am Very Far

Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
Buy On
  1. May 10, 2011
    91
    It's no longer the Okkervil River of The Stage Names or Black Sheep Boy, and that's a plus: I Am Very Far signals that the band's gifts with song and sentiment were never tied to specificity.
  2. Alternative Press
    May 16, 2011
    90
    It's a refreshing turn from a band who easily churned out more of the same to little complaint. [Jun 2011, p.109]
  3. 90
    Yet with such a superb back catalog and a stellar new record to boot, the question now becomes how – or if – Okkervil River will be able to top itself the next time around.
  4. May 10, 2011
    90
    I Am Very Far is certainly one of the best records of the year, but looking at this stretch of recordings with such a finite lens is doing them a disservice: this is music to cherish forever.
  5. May 9, 2011
    90
    Fans who approach I Am Very Far carrying expectations informed by the group's earlier releases will no doubt find this to be Okkervil River's most challenging work to date, but it's also the group's most grandiose, thrilling, and brilliant.
  6. May 6, 2011
    90
    Both a likely contender for the finest indie rock record of the year, then, and a breathtakingly chaotic venture far beyond that genre's remit.
  7. May 12, 2011
    88
    It's Kafka meets Mahler at the hipster club, and it's easily one of the musical highlights of the year.
  8. Jun 1, 2011
    82
    The feel is melancholic and reflective, despite being punctuated by a few uptempo tracks, but the urgency of Sheff's vocals and rich, layered arrangements make I Am Very Far both fascinating and memorable.
  9. Mojo
    Jun 21, 2011
    80
    The Lou Reed-approved alt-country band's sixth album. [July 2011, p. 105]
  10. Q Magazine
    May 31, 2011
    80
    Bands aren't suppose to peak on their sixth album, but Okkervil Rover are more tortoise than hare and they've been building towards I Am Very Far since they convened back in 1998. [Jun 2011, p.118]
  11. May 19, 2011
    80
    Epic and intimate, serious and playful, Okkervil River's third album is genuinely awe inspiring, growing with each replaying.
  12. May 19, 2011
    80
    Okkervil River has never provided easy answers in their albums--unless you read the many interviews with Sheff, who always seems willing to explain what he can--and I Am Very Far is another fine album in an increasingly finer canon.
  13. May 16, 2011
    80
    The resulting I Am Very Far, which was produced by Sheff, feels both transitory and triumphant, successfully integrating the Austin, Texas-based collective's penchant for lovelorn, indie Americana with the wild abandon of 21st century pop music's increasingly blurry genre borders.
  14. Uncut
    May 13, 2011
    80
    The noise they make is thrilling. [Jun 2011, p.78]
  15. May 10, 2011
    80
    The results are simultaneously raw and symphonic, always ascending higher while on the verge of total collapse.
  16. May 10, 2011
    80
    I Am Very Far is certainly a more enthralling listen than The Stand Ins was; though it may lack some of the emotional impact of Down the River of Golden Dreams, or especially Black Sheep Boy, the album remains a welcomed addition into the work of a band who commands great quality-control.
  17. May 9, 2011
    80
    The album never holds its shape-and that lack of shape, somehow, is what defines it.
  18. May 5, 2011
    80
    Perhaps Okkervil River just think the most interesting music usually inhabits the grey areas, a theory I Am Very Far does a lot to support.
  19. 80
    Each song revisits some real or imagined past that leaves the narrator empty-handed or disappointed, culminating in the impassioned mid-album plea for faith and renewal.
  20. May 9, 2011
    79
    Even so, it comes as a relief that the song doesn't end with a big, fiery finale. Instead, the band lets The Rise fray apart on its own, a quiet conclusion to a lyrically and musically feisty album.
  21. Entertainment Weekly
    May 24, 2011
    75
    The Texas indie outfit marries potent frontier imagery with psych-country shuffles. [20 May 2011, p.72]
  22. May 19, 2011
    75
    The smooth shape of this album - there's no rising or falling action - and lack of a big concept won't replace 2005's Black Sheep Boy for diehard fans, just as the superior The Stand-Ins didn't in 2008. But Elvis Costello fans should holler.
  23. Apr 29, 2011
    73
    Sheff is he orchestrator, but through all the manipulating elements, all the new band members, Sheff seems to be more at odds with his art than ever before.
  24. May 23, 2011
    70
    All that's clear in Far is that something wicked is on its way. That its shape can't be discerned only makes it more sinister.
  25. May 10, 2011
    70
    This album isn't going to isolate fans of Okkervil's older material, but it is going to require an acceptance that change has arrived.
  26. 70
    Part of the problem with I Am Very Far is that he's felt too much. It's impacting to the point of bruising.
  27. 70
    While the rich palette and varied arrangements are welcome, they also put load-bearing pressure on Mr. Sheff's songs, which feel intended more for evasive maneuvers.
  28. May 6, 2011
    70
    Much more petulant and moodier than previous albums, I Am Very Far swirls around in an illusory motion in which all manner of sounds and textures spin and whirl around the ubiquitous figure of Will Sheff; unwavering and untouchable, residing within the heart of the album's hidden emotions.
  29. May 12, 2011
    67
    It's a scattershot collection of rougher material, lacking the concision and continuity that made 2003's Down the River of Golden Dreams and 2007's The Stage Names such defining works.
User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. May 11, 2011
    8
    This isn't the classic that Black Sheep Boy is. Although it is still essential to anyone who enjoyed their past records because what this is,This isn't the classic that Black Sheep Boy is. Although it is still essential to anyone who enjoyed their past records because what this is, is a mature effort by a band who know their sound. It has that strangeness of seeming very familiar but completely fresh at the same time. After your first listen you will probably remember 1 or 2 songs you like, then the next probably another 1 or 2 and as you listen and become accustomed with the melodies this record only gets better. Most importantly this record is a step in the right direction, surpassing both Stage Names and Stand Ins. Full Review »
  2. Ste
    May 14, 2011
    9
    It's fantastic to see a great band unafraid to develop their sound and leave familiar territory behind. It's not like Okkervil River's musicIt's fantastic to see a great band unafraid to develop their sound and leave familiar territory behind. It's not like Okkervil River's music has ever been stagnant, no two albums have had the same sound with the exception of 'The Stage Names' and 'The Stand Ins' both from the same recording session, but 'I am Very Far' is still a departure. Great songwriting has been a calling card of Okkervil River for as long as they've been around. Pushing forward into new soundscapes which deflect, for better or worse, from the immediacy of Will Sheff''s vocals and therefore from the songs lyrical content is a bold move but one that has paid off. Give the album a few listens and it's soon clear that the unparalleled songwriting is still there; the lyrics on I am Very Far are as good as any Sheff has ever put out, but here without the apparent narrative arc over the course of the album that we're used to from Okkervil River. That said, despite the absence of a clear concept as with Black Sheep Boy (which is being mentioned in every review), there is a lot going on in this album for fans of OR to pore over; the word "throat" appears in more than half of the songs on the album in some outstanding lines: "A slit throat makes a note like a raw winter wind. We were piled in the river with the rock and roll skinned." ..off the album opener..and:

    "Your throat, where it's exposed, looks like a crime, I'll sneak-up slow and whisper quiet. Your pretty face looks like an island rising from a sea that's slowly drying." -vintage Will Sheff in 'Your Past Life as a Blast' The first song in which "throat" doesn't figure mentions "torn breaths"; in the closing track "the ladies coughed and cried, "I don't want to be there when it's time", so don't think that this album is a collection of entirely unrelated songs, there is a lot going on here. The musical styles on the other hand are disparate and new to the Okkervil oeuvre. The music on 'I am Very Far' is lush, multi-layered and almost entirely upbeat, and makes for a rewarding close listen from the disco bass line in 'Piratess' to the slow burning Hanging from a Hit (almost superceding 'Your Past Life as a Blast' as my favourite track) to the driving 'Wake and Be Fine'. Although there is a distant echoey quality and ghostly backing vocal to several songs, almost every track has its own distinct sound, quite an achievement and something which might also explain the wide divergence in opinion on how well 'I am Very Far' works as an album. Noted for their outstanding live performances 'I am Very Far' appears more ready for the live show, with its enlarged sound and upbeat tempo, than anything they've done since barnstorming tracks like 'Westfall' off their major label debut 'Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See'. If Okkervil's performance on David Letterman last night is anything to go by, the upcoming tour is not to be missed. (Disclosure: I'm a rather devoted Okkervil River fan...)
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 27, 2011
    10
    I sometimes wonder about who among the consumer reviewers here makes his/her own music / tries / thinks about doing so / pretends that he sheI sometimes wonder about who among the consumer reviewers here makes his/her own music / tries / thinks about doing so / pretends that he she could if they wanted to, and then about the ratio of creative souls to short-sighted drones. I try to produce my own music because I like to do so. This music on the new Okkervil River album is both audacious and amazing. Even if the songs sucked, which they absolutely don't, the recording itself is fascinating as a sonic document. Moreover, I can't think of anything more punk that I have or have not heard this year. Imagine yourself in a garage with all your instruments in the red, and how stupid/silly/fun/cathartic it would all sound. Now imagine yourself opening up to every instrument in the book, making your own when necessary, and pushing every sound into the mix in an interesting, readable, fashion. If you are not bored already, knife your rock in the neck and that rock will pretend the air's easy. Full Review »