December 9th, 2013 12:52pm

Show Me The Place Where Love Is Missing

Okkervil River “Stay Young”

I’ve wondered in the past what a purely American version of Jarvis Cocker would be like, and I think this song may actually be it. The resemblance is there on a musical level – there’s a similar spin on ’80s rock aesthetics, and the melody is very much something Cocker would sing. (In fact, at some points it reminds me specifically of “The Night Minnie Timperly Died.”) But beyond that, I think Will Sheff and Cocker are kindred spirits in the way they write lyrics – they use very vivid and specific language but their reference points are fairly low brow, and there’s a strong identification with what could be considered unremarkable losers who don’t even have the quiet dignity of a romanticized working class. There’s a different kind of romance here, and it’s more to do with standing up and fighting to give your life meaning. Sheff sings this song like a call to arms, and the stakes are basically – this all means something, or it doesn’t. And the thought of all the pain and indignity being for nothing is too much to handle.

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