Pop Lie (single) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Okkervil River

Pop Lie (single)


May 01, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Not since Elvis Costello has any artist combined pop ferocity and magnetism with such challenging words. The standard rule is bitter and thoughtful = slow and delicate, but when artists escape that equation-when they recognize that smart people have blood in their veins too-they are justly hailed by their grateful minions in the press, like so:

Here are two versions of “Pop Lie” plus one of “Millionaire,” both songs knowingly entangling us in weird thickets of indie star self-examination. In “Pop Lie” lead singer/songwriter Will Sheff accuses fans of “lying when you sing along” right at the exact moment when he knows we can’t help but sing along. “Millionaire” is a lovely, four-minute, sarcastic swoon. Sheff presents unflattering takes on himself and the entire indie pop phenomenon. Gentlemen, start your theses.

Now we’re trapped: he mocks the whole enterprise, so we can’t make too much of the work without feeling silly, and yet here it is. It’s great, full of strangely exuberant self-loathing, peppered with flashy rhymes, crashing recklessly forward. Sheff’s vocals are brushed with an arrogant teen snarl, bottomed out with weariness, quavering with hope. Okkervil River always risks being insufferable, and that’s brave. (www.okkervilriver.com)

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