Knowing the origins of Shearwater‘s latest album The Golden Archipelago only helps to increase its dramatic effect, as lead singer/island explorer Jonathan Meiburg shares the mighty stories of his experience. The album completes the third in a trilogy by Shearwater that includes 2006′s Palo Santo and 2008′s Rook, centering on the imminent threat the human population poses to the safety and health of the natural world. In certain spots Shearwater appear to have been listening to some Sunset Rubdown records as Meiburg’s soaring vocals seem to channel the dragon slayer spirit of Spencer Krug, but the grounded reality of Meiburg’s travels and his grievances with the human population keep the lyrics from remaining a solely esoteric instrument.
“Meridian” opens with the chanting anthem of Bikini Atoll, sung by Bikinians in exile on the islet of Kili, where they have been forced to live since atomic tests left their native island uninhabitable. Pianos, strings, a muted acoustic and various vocal harmonies weave in and out with gentle timbre. “Black Eyes” presents a story as grand as its accompanying music. The attention to pianos, organs, coronets and high hat project Meiburg’s poetic request of mankind to rise up: “Come down from lion’s back / call down to the endless sleepers/ give life to the dimming days/ that run in an endless stream now.”
The Golden Archipelgo is expansive, deeply moving and poetic. Much like traveling amongst a foreign landscape, listeners should revisit the album and discover the beauty they may have previously overlooked. The album is an epic, most effectively listened to as a whole package – a feat not attempted by many today. And the result is quite good for those who prefer their music with a salient message. Otherwise, to the apathetic, it could risk coming off as a downer. But carrying this label is a burden one must always face in exposing the truths of the world.
Watch the video for “Hidden Lakes” here
by: Bene Garcia