Okkervil River returns in 2018 with In The Rainbow Rain, the group's most immediate – and meaningful – collection to date. On it, bandleader Will Sheff makes a startling left turn from their critically-lauded and inward-looking 2016 album Away, crafting an exuberant declaration of hope. In place of Away's somber strings and acoustic textures, In the Rainbow Rain is full of dazzling color, spattered with starbursts of electric guitar, big blooms of synth, and a chorus of backing vocals. It's a buoyant and playful record, but also open and emotionally vulnerable. Sheff says, "I wanted to make a record where a sense of kindness felt encoded into the music."
In The Rainbow Rain – produced by Sheff and mixed by Shawn Everett (Perfume Genius, Alabama Shakes, The War on Drugs) – serves as showcase for Sheff's writing and the musical interplay of his new band mates, Benjamin Lazar Davis (bass), Will Graefe (guitar), Sarah Pedinotti (keyboards) and Cully Symington (percussion) – the same iteration of Okkervil River that joined Sheff on the Away tour.
Akin to a modern secular gospel record, highlights include driving, melodic anthems "Love Somebody" and "Pulled Up The Ribbon," and "Famous Tracheotomies," which chronicles notable figures who've endured the titular procedure, including Gary Coleman, Dylan Thomas, Ray Davies, and Sheff himself. "In places, the record deals with heavy things like trauma and betrayal and shame, but, actually, it's supposed to be a good time," says Sheff. "I hope it's something fun, that makes people feel happier."