The Stage Names - Okkervil River

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Everything is here: melody, harmony, great lyrics, smart instrumentation and pure emotion. It’s book ended by two of the best songs of the year and everything in between is music gold.
  2. Each song is expertly crafted, with an amazingly punchy set of melodies delivered by an extremely tight band with sometimes larger arangements that never become fussy. [Summer 2007, p. 76]
  3. This album truely is a collection of gems. [Oct 2007, p.162]
  4. 90
    Wildly alive, majestic and by turns brooding and raucous--often within the same song--The Stage Names burns with all the loneliness and adventure of a never-ending road trip.
  5. With his band's fourth studio album, frontman Will Sheff stakes a claim here for the right to be called the best songwriter working right now.
  6. Despite its density (they fit worlds into just nine songs), the album remains exciting and accessible, albeit highly sobering.
  7. Thanks to the fuzzy-folk-rock vibe, Names never feels like an undergrad lit class. [24 Aug 2007, p.133]
  8. The Stage Names is a relatively straightforward roots-rock record, rounded out by clever, pop-culture-obsessed songs.
  9. Simple, patient, dreary (in a good way) music dominates this soundtrack, providing the perfect accompaniment for Sheff to wail off about doctor and patient sex in a shrink office, society’s pervasive attraction to celebrity and the plights of aging, among other topics.
  10. 80
    John B Sheff's wavering, sometimes overwrought, vocal takes getting used to, but it's worth it for songs like these. [Mar 2008, p.108]
  11. Sheff has proven himself again and again to be a gifted wordsmith, and Stage Names features some of his finest parlor room romanticisms and slacker-poet observations to date.
  12. Sheff's unorthodox, often beautiful songs blend folk and country with left-field rock influences.
  13. The Stage Names is much more of a balls-out rock album than most of Okkervil River's oeuvre, and also more orchestral and layered, with arrangements that include everything from non-sissy glockenspiel to metronome percussion. The complexity is the perfect counterpart to Sheff's dense writing.
  14. The Stage Names, despite being dense, is rarely difficult and is probably the band's most accessible effort to date.
  15. The cerebral lyrics take center stage, as it were, while the band rocks out much harder than it did on 2005's melancholy "Black Sheep Boy."
  16. The Stage Names is raucous, rambunctious and occasionally quite funny.
  17. On The Stage Names, the band have once again shown themselves to be expert at creating this undeniably sad and powerful indie rock. It’s one of the year’s essential albums.
  18. The urgency is still there, as guitars and pianos take turns screaming during the breakdown, but the violence is replaced with a sense of frivolity and playfulness that lingers throughout the group's fifth release.
  19. This album comes in a neat package: well-guarded and wry, artists competently displaying their hard-earned skill. It's all very professional, but no more meaningful than the titular appellations, the smile of a persona.
  20. Yes, it's solid rock but what they might lack in glamour (no back up dancers here, dude), they make up for in sheer sincerity.
  21. As much as I enjoy Stage Names, it will never be as highly regarded as the comparitavely masterpiece Black Sheep Boy, as the songs lack the depth and magnitude needed to influence a much more musically inclined indie fan base.
  22. 70
    Singer/songwriter Will Sheff gives overkill a good name on Okkervil River's fourth album. [Sep 2007, p.136]
  23. These sad-sack satirists pepper their fourth album with tracks that quicken the pace to anaerobic levels, as frontman Will Sheff liberally shpritzes his microphone while the band gets lathered up like participants in a grade-school dodgeball game.
  24. The band's arrangements are still wonderfully unpolished, so while these tunes should please anyone who buys CDs at Starbucks, they still pack some ragged glory of what makes the Austin collective so intoxicating on stage.
  25. The Stage Names shares the frenzy of pre–"Black Sheep" songs like 'The War Criminal Rises and Speaks,' and if it isn't as monolithic as the album that spurred the band's rise to "Believer"-subscriber prominence, it does contain several fine examples of hyper-articulate hysteria.
  26. While this album isn’t as riveting as earlier Okkervil River CDs, there’s plenty to enjoy, and plenty of reason for hope.
  27. The nearly impossible thematic scope attempted and deftly handled here is a tribute to Will Sheff's dexterity and range as a songwriter (if not a vocalist), and the band's chops for being able to keep pace.
  28. 60
    If at times it's a little too knowing for its own good, the music itself is less claustrophobic than before. [Nov 2007, p.121]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 59 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Mar 31, 2012
    I thoroughly enjoyed this whole album. From start to finish, it's a melodic, rhythmic triumph that gets better with each listen. All In All, Okkervil River never tend to fail. Full Review »
  2. SaintGod
    Jun 21, 2009
    Better and more coherent than Black Sheep Boy, which basically means a perfect record. Can't wait to see what follows stage names and stand in's... Okkervil River: Stewardess. Will could make something incredible out of it, no doubt. I said it first. Honestly this record is perfect. Not just one of the best records of 2007 but taken with the Stand Ins after, stands among the best double albums, or taken alone, best albums, since contemporary music began. Seriously, the 60's where just a start people, get over it. Full Review »
  3. ConnorG.
    Jun 18, 2009
    Incredible album, listen to the depth and you will be surprised. Look for the stories, the meanings and you will find that this is easily the best album out of 200...No contest, hands down. Full Review »