Our short lived existence moves through the varied experience created by environment, its residents and the interaction occurring at every turn. Animal Joy marks Shearwater’s eighth album, forging through the wilderness of the modern indie scene. Spanning the gambit of sensation and the reality life creates, this tale of our animal life crashes passed the everyday toward the larger truths hovering just over the horizon, just beyond our reach.
Opening with soft plucking guitar strings “Animal Life” “rides along the road ephemeral” picking up pace into a crescending crest, sound expanding as this wandering journey begins. The road winds on beneath a beating blackened sky, making its way through the confused obstacles laid out before those brave enough to travel beyond the known. Jonathan Meiburg’s crooning vocals slides throughout “Breaking The Yearlings”, gaining momentum as they pound along the trail “watching the tide run out.”
Dialing down the intensity into introspective musings through the core of the album, the ambience crafted by Shearwater’s musicians moves across the breadth of emotion left behind by life’s experience. “And the world goes racing, suddenly changing as the shock of the exit leaves you trembling.” The span of memory echoes through “You As You Were”, looking back on the precious moments quickly fleeting as we’re pushed apart from the ones we care so much about. The scars of our past leave us spinning, searching for direction in the confusion.
Recognizing the wasted moments that make up a life remains a theme throughout the charted course. Grabbing hold of the opportunities presented and making the most of them instead of deciding “to run from the days we are living in.” Moving through the range of feeling, “Immaculate” rises almost to anger as Shearwater demands “get a hold of your life” before falling back into softer reflections.
Animal characterization of human traits and angers drifts down the river of sound, allusions to the creatures we share this rotating sphere with splashing through the shallows. “You could spend your life fighting the river, or you could look me right in the eyes.” The struggle each has to contend with those around them and within themselves leering through the orchestration. “Pushing The River” reflects the decisions everyone has to make concerning existence within a decaying society.
Rising above the wastedland created by mortal selfishness and excess below “Star Of The Age” soars “among the islands of our minds.” Shearwater’s collection of the feelings of despair and bewilderment pervading the existence of the common people comes to a close on a hopeful note. It is the story of worry about the world that’s been wrought by the actions of short sighted paper collectors and their minions exploiting the beauty we’ve been gifted with. Ours is a world at the tipping point. Animal Joy is an expression of what many are attempting to cope with and correct as a brave new world soldiers on.
“But still my life
the only relieving light
In the spinning darkness of our lives
Is when I see you again
In the moonlight
In the starlight
In the sunlight
And I believe it again”