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Album Review | INDIE ROCK

Okkervil River, ‘The Silver Gymnasium’

Some people will call this album a masterpiece, while others will call it a fatuous mess. There is evidence of both. If you like story songs a la Ray Davies, Randy Newman, and Ryan Adams, you’ll enjoy some of singer Will Sheff’s tales of growing up in tiny Meriden, N.H., which had fewer than 500 residents when he was there in the ’80s. Ultimately, though, the album is weighed down by verbose lyrics and excess ambition. Sheff tries too hard: Witness the too-clever “Lido Pier Suicide Car” with its line about “the hassler of gassed-up graspers trying to make their grands.” The album starts promisingly with “It Was My Season” and its happily bouncy piano riffs, and another strong song, “Down the Deep River,” has cinematic synth melodies reminiscent of Roy Bittan of the E Street Band. But the long, drawn-out soundscapes and needless overproduction induce fatigue on later tracks. Okkervil River was superb when backing Roky Erickson a few years ago, but they succumbed to self-indulgence here. (Out Tuesday)

Essential “Down the Deep River”

Okkervil River plays the Boston Calling Festival on City Hall Plaza Sept. 7.

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