Shearwater had largely stayed out of politics till the grim state of American affairs prompted Jonathan Meiburg to vary his tune in 2016. This trajectory describes a minimum of a number of thousand different indie artists, however Meiburg was forward of the curve: Shearwater involved themselves not with their common ornithological research nor geographical arcana on their atypically strident Jet Airplane and Oxbow, launched a minimum of 10 months earlier than the wave of newly activated resisters rose in November. It might be utterly logical for Shearwater to proceed on this course, however whereas there’s been limitless materials to spark outrage, Meiburg has found outrage itself shouldn’t be a renewable useful resource. After spending a minimum of a half decade buckling underneath the oppressive weight of worldly horrors and hopelessness, The Nice Awakening bravely and maybe naively gives counterprogramming, going inward to think about a panorama unscarred by human treachery.
As the primary Shearwater album in six years, The Nice Awakening is a return to type by default. Meiburg’s tasks within the time since have been logical extensions of Shearwater’s ornate, earthy, and infrequently educational mien—collaborating with former tour openers Cross File to make continuously stirring music as Loma and penning A Most Exceptional Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World’s Smartest Birds of Prey, a celebrated work on his most frequent topic. However his earlier two Shearwater albums felt meant as a response to the more and more treasured pretense of his “Island Arc,” pivoting in direction of rock musculature and scene-chewing synth-pop. Animal Pleasure and Jet Airplane had been the primary time Shearwater sounded conversant with bigger developments in indie rock, whereas The Nice Reawakening is as a lot of an about-face sonically as it’s spiritually, revisiting a baroque, naturalistic type of art-rock with nearly no up to date friends.
“Sufficient of this unhappy dreaming of nation life,” Meiburg booms throughout “Empty Orchestra,” The Nice Awakening’s pulse-quickening outlier; it’s a want to be absolutely marooned from fashionable civilization and in addition a possible shout to Roxy Music, an acceptable comparability that began rising extra on Jet Airplane. It’s most likely the latter, given the King Crimson easter egg within the file’s first line: “Right here comes your coronary heart assault/Starless and bible black/And right here is the endgame.”
From that time ahead, The Nice Awakening imagines life taking form after a religious demise, rising from pitch black to a clean slate of blinding white. In his authorial and musical pursuits, Meiburg is unafraid to follow endurance to doc a magnificence that may’t be pressured. “There’s no cause to cry,” he intones early on, letting the sentiment linger for practically six minutes with out dashing in direction of a decision. The Nice Awakening usually unfolds on the tempo of time-lapse video of land plenty forming or vegetation springing into bloom, orchestrated with sufficient horns and strings to skew prog, although quiet sufficient to go for minimalism. On “Everybody You Contact,” Meiburg is close-mic’d sufficient to listen to his breath and fingers sliding throughout the fretboard, although the manufacturing and his mannered vocals render it each intimate, opulent, and ghostly, like watching an esteemed stage actor rehearse in an empty amphitheater.