The kind of band that thrive on reverential word-of-mouth rather than grand commercial gestures, Shearwater have been making beautiful, devastating records since the turn of the century.
Their eighth studio album is one of their most accessible and most ingenious. Ostensibly an indie rock band, Jonathan Meiburg’s crew have always been an artful bunch, concerned more with elegant chamber pop than boys-with-guitars guff. The band have become more muscular in recent times, but the gap between Shearwater’s delicate melodies and the atmospheric currents of Gazpacho (even latter-day Marillion) remains satisfyingly narrow. Ultimately these are simply gorgeous, intelligent and often viscerally powerful songs. From Prime’s austere web of twinkling keys and Quiet Americans’ skewed pop hooks through to the barbed, sprawling funk of Filaments and Glass Bones’ restless skittering, Jet Plane And Oxbow bulges with moments of awe-inspiring fragility and grace. Their finest album since 2008’s flawless Rook ends with Stray Light At Cloud Hills, six minutes of tense melancholy that’s delivered with the flair of myopic artisans, devoted to the craft of breaking hearts.