The Stand Ins is Okkervil River’s follow-up to their critically acclaimed The Stage Names, but don’t call it a sequel — it’s really a collection of deleted and extended scenes, scrapped when frontman Will Sheff, fearing overkill, nixed releasing Stage Names as a double album.
He made the right choice — Stage Names was Okkervil’s most concise and potent collection to date. As a stand-alone album, Stand Ins isn’t as satisfying as its predecessor, but it makes an excellent companion piece. Standouts like the rollicking “Lost Coastlines” (a duet with Jonathan Meiburg, who jumped ship to Shearwater), the heartbreaking “On Tour with Zykos,” and haunting closer “Interview With Bruce Wayne Campbell on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979” are among the best songs Sheff has penned — and put his uncanny ability to be both screenwriter, character actor, and leading man squarely in the spotlight.
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