Shearwater, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton, November 30

First published in The Critic by

With their Palo Santo/Rook/Golden Archipelago album trilogy, Texan eco-friendly melancholy indie-rockers Shearwater cornered the market in post-apocalyptic meanders through a scorched earth. So, what next?

This year’s Animal Joy marked the band’s signing to Sub-Pop, the label that signed Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. Fittingly, it seems with that came the desire to shrug off pomposity in favour of balls-out rock. Roughly 200 shows into this tour, the band exhausted and Meiberg croaking through a cold, Shearwater somehow still rocked out.

Minus long-time band-members Kimberley Burke and Thor Harris, vocalist Jonathan Meiburg’s touring line-up galloped through the new record, the monumental Breaking The Yearlings the obvious highlight (sorry for the horse pun). Of course, older fan-favourites such as The Snow Leopard, Rooks and Castaways were predictably brilliant, though there was the persistent feeling of something missing.

“Where’s Thor?” cried one punter, hitting the nail on the head. Shearwater’s strength is their capacity to switch from Burke’s subtle strings and Harris’s delicate percussion to majestic chaos. With this show’s one-note noisy style too close to standard pop-rock (which certainly shouldn’t be the case), though still vastly superior to most, the end result felt depressingly bereft of the band’s trademark complexity.

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