In The Rainbow Rain

Okkervil River - In The Rainbow Rain
Critic Score
Based on 16 reviews
2018 Ratings: #613 / 719
User Score
Based on 44 ratings
2018 Ratings: #647
April 27, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
ATO / Label
Indie Rock / Genres
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The Independent

Sheff’s search for transcendence in dark times and simple wish to connect are admirable. But he sounds dazed by this conversion to positive thinking.


An album that echoes the pull of modern pop, it’s rousing, revelatory, dynamic and demonstrative without negating any sort of bigger theme.

Under The Radar
The result is an album that's deeply affecting, but which—even if it is—doesn't feel quite as personal or authentic as much of the band's previous output.
God Is in the TV

After two decades and eight albums, Sheff steers the river Okkervil out of a moody Americana prone to occasional bouts of optimism into an unlikely contender for Arcade Fire’s celebratory indie crown.

Drowned in Sound

With the exception of the dingy, dirty and grandiose boom of ‘Pulled Up The Ribbon’, most of In The Rainbow Rain is made up of occasionally-sombre songs cleverly disguised as up-beat, harmless, light-hearted tunes, which of course they’re not.


In The Rainbow Rain suffers a bit from Sheff following his muse to a wholly unexpected place, where the guitars unfurl like starbursts.


In the Rainbow Rain is unapologetic and adventurous; through it, Sheff and Co. don't ask us to ignore the world's problems, just to keep dancing in spite of them.


Will Sheff makes kindness an aesthetic on this album of gentle, idiosyncratic songs about dog adoption, celebrities’ emergency tracheotomies and finding transcendence in nature.

A.V. Club

In The Rainbow Rain’s tracks find Okkervil mastermind Will Sheff unpacking hardship in search of life’s perfect little greenhouses, the incorruptible gleams of hope and beauty in everything from surgery to the death of loved ones to humanity’s very existence.

The Line of Best Fit

It’s tender and loving, but gruff and macho when it needs to be. It’s a soft reboot. It’s a new path to take.


In the Rainbow Rain, the latest album from Okkervil River, is as hopeful and punchy, but also as clunky as its title.


In the Rainbow Rain, the band's ninth long-player, is a buoyant, stylistically diverse collection of songs that signal a tonal shift away from the bucolic folk and fervent indie Americana of the past.

The Observer

Sheff finally gets to the 13-year-old Ray Davies, explaining how the experience would later inspire Waterloo Sunset, before its refrain is picked out on a synth. It’s a compelling and moving opener to In the Rainbow Rain, but nothing else here scales the same heights.

Embracing soft-rock influences is something of a peculiar move because it really strips the edges from Sheff’s occasionally barbed approach – sometimes to the point of making a number of these songs so bland that they’re instantly forgettable.
Slant Magazine

As he's prone to making effusive blanket statements, the singer largely prevents himself from exploring the more complex nuances of human emotion.

Spectrum Culture

Sheff seems to have new things to say, as if he’s discovering light in a dark place but doesn’t quite know how to share it yet. The band has stumbled on this one, but it feels like a result of searching for new footing, and not of having lost their way.

One of the more beautiful albums of this year. As noted already, some songs can feel a tad simplistic or almost expected, but still somehow as a whole it is presented in such an interesting way that it will surely take me several repeat listens to come to my final score.
It's hard to believe that this was once one of the most compelling bands in the indiesphere. Still great lyrics, but still presented in a very forgettable way. Will Sheff will still be releasing mediocre lyric-driven folk albums in his 60's. It's like his words are a gold nugget but then they wrap it in aluminum foil and hand it to you. Pulled Up The Ribbon is maybe the only aurally pleasing song here. I mean the most interesting song is about celebrities that got throat cancer...
Okkervil River expand on their sound that they began experimenting with on their last album, "Away". There are Strings and Jazzy elements and synths galore. And while at a glance this album sounds really nice, there's no heart in sight. This was once a Folk project built on passionate performances and sharp lyrics. But the material on this album shows those days are long gone. Will Sheff sounds exhausted, and often is sort of just a backdrop to the sea of instrumentals here. ... read more
Will Sheff is too strong a songwriter and frontman to ever deliver an actually weak record. Even at their least inspired, Okkervil River is not going to shake its penchant for songcraft and elaborate arrangements. Sadly, “In the Rainbow Rain” represents Okkervil River at their least inspired. Not as relentlessly slow as “Away,” this album will at least grab your attention, but most of Okkervil River’s attempts at adventurousness fall flat. A shift towards synths ... read more
There's never any doubt about Okkervil River's lyricism, but sometimes their songs can be a little bit forgettable in the way that they are delivered. A lot of the songs on 'In the Rainbow Rain' suffer from this, with only a select few possessing hooks and stylistic choices that stick with the listener. Otherwise, it is a painfully mediocre record that plods along.

Favourite track: Pulled Up the Ribbon
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#65/Piccadilly Records

Track List

  1. Famous Tracheotomies
  2. The Dream and the Light
  3. Love Somebody
  4. Family Song
  5. Pulled Up the Ribbon
  6. Don't Move Back To LA
  7. Shelter Song
  8. How It Is
  9. External Actor
  10. Human Being Song
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Added on: February 12, 2018