We’re in an era in which minimalism and lower-than-low-tech have come in vogue. By contrast, Shearwater’s recordings—the epic “Island Arc” trilogy of Palo Santo, Rook and The Golden Archipelago in particular—have been expansive in a fashion like none of their contemporaries.
Meiburg—presumably unfamiliar with the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”—has opted to ditch an approach that paid huge artistic dividends over his last three Matador albums for a record that seems shockingly direct, immediate and intensely personal. He’s no stranger to lush, crafted recordings, but this one sounds like no prior Shearwater incarnation. And please, don’t mistake that for a suggestion this is anyone’s notion of a traditional, singer-songwriter album.
Though it’s possibly a wild projection to claim a few years of bouncing through various band lineups, record labels and places of residence have led to a radical reboot, I’m a big believer in citing circumstantial evidence and letting the jury figure it out for themselves. Someone’s bound to label ‘Animal Joy’ Shearwater’s transitional album, but to these ears, it sounds like a thrilling artistic rebirth.
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