Jet Plane and Oxbow (Sub Pop)
Reviewed by Abby Johnston, Fri., Feb. 12, 2016
As voters try sorting through the chaos of an election year, Jonathan Meiburg wades into the debate in a decidedly more big-tent fashion than either party. "Where are the Americans?" the Shearwater frontman/songwriter wonders on Eighties glitz "Quiet Americans." Jet Plane and Oxbow, Shearwater's ninth LP, has been described by its author as a protest album set in 1980, but one less pointed at any particular subject than it is at the American condition. A fast acoustic strum and open sensatory space on "Pale Kings" recalls the brighter points of U2's epiphanies: "You know how sometimes/ You're so tired of the country/ Its pop tones and its pale kings/ And its fences like knives." The locals' strength remains in crafting massive soundscapes, from the onslaught of guitar and electronic quips on "Radio Silence" to the balladic stillness of "Only Child." Meiburg's agenda isn't political. It's sonic.