The beauty of Shearwater’s The Golden Archipelago can be likened to a majestic landscape under destruction of catastrophe. There is a palpable sadness that is engaging and yet distant, as if the view is of someplace far away. With cohesion and understatement Jonathan Meiburg creates the perfect follow-up to 2008’s Rook.
A more seamless outing than its predecessor, The Golden Archipelago is prone to stretches of increased subtlety, where the memorable moments are a bit faint. Lacking some of the punch and climax that gave Rook a more stately posture, Shearwater’s third album in the assumed trilogy, doesn’t have the same backdrop with which to play on its nuances. This leaves it feeling a little pale and muted on occasion. While The Golden Archipelago will reward listeners as they soak in its waves, it only ebbs in comparison to its predecessor. Had Rook not already accomplished that by which The Golden Archipelago abides, it would no doubt be a groundbreaking triumph.
In the stunning anticipation felt through “Castaways”, to the jubilation of “Black Eyes”, and the sincere moments of dark beauty found in “Missing Islands”, Shearwater provide a remarkable conclusion to this sonic odyssey.