Shearwater – Jet Plane and Oxbow
Back in 2008, with breakthrough Rook newly hatched and attracting fresh interest, Shearwater were invited to open a handful of dates on Coldplay’s arena-filling Viva La Vida tour – an incongruous fit, you might think, for Jonathan Meiburg’s plaintive, subdued songwriting. Eight years on, however, hints of stadium-scale bombast are making their mark on the ever-evolving Shearwater sound, with ninth album Jet Plane and Oxbow the band’s punchiest and most populist work to date.
If the artwork isn’t indication enough that change is afoot (out with the usual ecological imagery, in with geometric neon), then the bubbling synths and Bowie-esque swagger of lead single Quiet Americans are a dead giveaway. Only occasionally does the grandeur threaten to run away from them, as on the over-blustery Pale Kings; otherwise, their form is more or less impeccable, with the swooning vocal melodies of Backchannels and the off-kilter creep of Filaments among its standout elements.