I haven't listened to the whole thing -- ok, let me rephrase, I haven't listened to more than one track -- but it is promising. The folks at The Rawking Refuses to Stop wrote quite the review. If the new album can stir up so much emotion and introspection in that guy, it must be something to behold.
The track I have heard, "Lost Coastlines," suggests just that. Okkervil River paves the way for a new "soul" genre, I believe. The Stage Names, and then this song, both summon swooping strings, (multiple) teary male voices, bold and simple melodies, and an unabashed and honest lyrics. Okkervil River, like Jens Lekman, is not afraid of focused themes or cheesiness. They fearlessly embrace lyrics involving the overused metaphors of maps, stars, light, and the sea to create something fresh and original. Sheff's voice is stirring and passionate and bodes well for this latest effort.
So here's a sample, along with a lesser-known Okkervil River selection that is equally good, in many of the same ways. Raw emotion:
Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines (The Stand-Ins, 2008)
Okkervil River - The President Is Dead (The President's Dead 12", 2006)
BUY The Stage Names and pre-order The Stand-Ins, etc.