Shearwater, Animal Joy
More interested in atmospherics than heart-pounding anthems
The Austin-based quintet Shearwater is not afraid to rock – Animal Joy opens with a buzzing electric guitar, and then charges into the propulsive standout “Immaculate” – but its new album overall is more interested in atmospherics than in heart-pounding anthems. (Remember how Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs felt when it first came out, with all those moody songs and only a couple cathartic blowouts? This is like that.) Frontman and noted bird enthusiast Jonathan Meiburg (“You were the flash in the wings of a swallow,” he sings on “Pushing The River”) has a smoky voice that hovers over hushed tracks like “Run The Banner Down” and a batch of others that run together. They’re there, if you want vibe music for long nights in big old houses after too much red wine. But he and his band are more exciting when they play harder and faster, as on “You as You Were,” a runaway piano-driven anthem that channels early Springsteen.