By Mikael Wood
August 17, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Stage Names

B+

Okkervil River’s fourth album — the follow-up to its ’05 breakthrough, Black Sheep Boy — finds lead singer Will Sheff spinning another batch of Dylanesque yarns about down-and-out characters: lonely sailors, raccoon-eyed criminals, sad dads who read their daughters’ diaries. Most of the tunes lack choruses, but the verses burst with writerly details. Yet thanks to the fuzzy folk-rock vibe, The Stage Names never feels like an undergrad lit class. And when ”John Allyn Smith Sails” slyly morphs into the folk standard ”Sloop John B,” the result is electrifying. B+
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The Stage Names

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