Shearwater – “Rooks” 7”
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2008
When “Rooks” was made available for download in advance of Shearwater’s fifth LP Rook, I listened to it ceaselessly. It’s a gorgeous, sinister, haunting track. I vividly remember Tiny Mixtapes scathing review of the album, which hinged upon Shearwater sounding exactly like Talk Talk and that was grounds for outright dismissal. Which was annoying, but I know I’ve done it once or twice so whatever. Personally, I loved that record, and its quasi-title track was a big reason for that. I saw Shearwater play songs from the record two or three times at SXSW that year and later in Lawrence when they toured. I haven’t been as diligent with their last few albums, but I still have a great affinity for Jonathan Meiburg and his craft. The performance on “Rooks” is so tightly coiled it almost feels uncomfortable. There’s a tension wrapped up in the hypnotic guitar line that, the heart-gripping menace of the bass, and all the weird stuff Thor Harris was getting up to. The song builds through its first couple verses and casually explodes into horns and chanting without ever losing control. It feels organic and drives right through you and, just like that, it’s over. Maybe that’s why I listened to it on end. It’s fashioned in such a way to be a few seconds short of just long enough. The b-side is a Talk Talk cover, which is more of an experimental clattering of percussion and dissonant guitar tones than a song. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard a Talk Talk song, so I can’t speak to the band’s influence on Rooks, and considering how much I love that album, I’m thinking I should probably keep it that way.