As soon as the first thunderous drum thwacks of ‘The Valley’ crash in and Will Sheff’s wonderfully theatrical vocals hit you realise this could be Okkervil River’s time. I Am Very Far is a record vast in both its scope and its sound; vast enough to transport a band who have for so long been on the peripheries and place them in the indie big time.

Will Sheff has always been ambitious in the very best sense of the word, constructing elegant and literate narratives that aren’t afraid to be clever. The trick here is that he has learnt when to give everything and when to hold something back.

The result is an album that at once seems more expansive, chaotic and vaulting than anything they’ve previously done and also more layered and controlled. Sheff used the time off between albums to collaborate with Roky Erickson and this has infused the album with an energy and verve that sets it apart from what the band have done before.

The live feel of the album (at one point in the process two drummers, two pianists, two bassists, and seven guitarists were all playing live at the same time) gives it a sense of frenzied delirium. ‘Rider’ is colossal; a tune which grows so big that you feel it could implode at any time and, indeed, does fall apart at the edges before it gets to the end. ‘Wake And Be Fine’s’ orchestral, melodramatic stomp and overwrought vocals give over-the-top a good name.

Yet there is also restraint. ‘Your Past Life As a Blast’ is a swoonsome pleasure, light and lovely with its ghostly backing vocals. ‘Piratess’’ crooning is another stand out with its tape-fast-forwarded solo, as is the minimalist beauty of ‘Show Yourself’.

Sheff hasn’t lost his way with a lyric. In fact, he seems to have honed his craft - creating intricate scenes without giving too much away. He allows the listener to imagine the rest, giving you just enough rope to either hang the characters he has created or let them walk free. ‘Hanging From A Hit’s’ gradual revelation of reluctant adultery is a perfect example - ‘As she’s almost asleep on one side / I lie back on my pillow / and ask what her husband is like’.

The fact that the music matches his lyrical prowess is what makes this album so stunning. It is an extravagant statement of intent, a work that will stand up to anything else released this year.

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