Rook - Shearwater

Universal acclaim - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. With Rook they have fashioned an album that is melodic, tender, outstanding but above all, captivating. One thing is for sure, this is one of the best albums of the year.
  2. Meiburg's voice focuses each track on quietly bold melodies, strung through with excitement, wonder, and joy.
  3. This "calm before the storm" aesthetic dominates Rook, and in another testament to its short running time, works beautifully, illuminating the few straightforward pieces like "Century Eyes," "Leviathan, Bound," and the brooding title track like a centuries-old woodcut, and allowing the tension that permeates the entire affair to ebb and flow naturally, resulting in one of the most heady and satisfying albums of the year.
  4. Rook is great, with an emotional clarity and narrative acuity that makes it one of the year's most rewarding listens.
  5. Shearwater has magnificently outdone itself. Not only is Rook destined to be named one of 2008’s favorites, but it could be one of the best albums for years to come.
  6. Rook is an epic undertaking that plumbs the depths of the seas ("Leviathan, Bound") to the heavens themselves ("I Was a Cloud," "The Hunter's Star") for the sounds that make the stories sing.
  7. Worth mentioning about Rook, as something of a corollary to its ostensible punch-in-the-gut dynamics, is how creatively put together it all is.
  8. Rook is the kind of music that people fall in love with, not simply because it’s, by most metrics, wonderful music, but because it contains enough mood swings that no matter how you are feeling, it’s always appropriate. [Summer 2008]
  9. As impressive and uniformly gorgeous a record as Rook is, the band's best work is likely still to come.
  10. 80
    From clanging rock songs to eerie ambient pieces to sensual acoustic reveries, it's all highly detailed and perfectly weighted. [Aug 2008, p.98]
  11. 80
    [Meiburg] applies this Audubon-ish enthusiasm to his songs, too, crafting a rich, occasionally macabre, fantasy world populated by starlings, gulls and solitary falconers.
  12. Rooks is a hugely self-assured and often compelling album, which looks outside of the world of modern man for inspiration, and in most cases, finds it in spades.
  13. While Shearwater has always been album-oriented (they've been known in the past, like Okkervil River, for their themed albums) Rook is by far their most successful to date.
  14. While Meiburg's voice, charisma, and songwriting dominate this album, his backing band does a fantastic job of growing and falling, creating the dramatic effects he envisioned.
  15. While earlier albums hinted at the kind of open-air pastorals that the band was capable of, Rook delivers on all the promise.
  16. Rook is flush with the hallmarks of Shearwater’s style, from high-wire drama to near-hymnal stillness. Although its songs aren’t as uniformly good as those on 2006’s "Palo Santo."
  17. It has resulted in a not-completely enchanting experience, but an involving and worthwhile one nonetheless. Explore for its many corners of interest.
  18. 70
    While Jonathan Meiburg’s uneasy high quaver has always generated the kind of simmering intensity that made Jeff Buckley so gripping and unnerving, canny tonal shifts give his introspective songs a bristling, heightened urgency.
  19. If Rook is as ambitious as they feel they can be without adding excess, then that's a good tradeoff, but their sound right now fits them like a pair of shoes that are a size too small.
  20. The songs here tend to go nowhere for a quiet couple of minutes before bursting randomly into tightly composed melodrama, which could be mistaken for actually going somewhere.

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