A song cycle of disappointment and defeat, the second release from Shearwater expands upon the skeletal framework of their debut by adding textural color in the form of vibraphone, pump organ, viola, violin, and drums to the mix of their particularly dejected Americana. The lineup now having officially expanded to include Kim Burke on upright bass and drummer/vibraphonist Thor Harris, the duo of Jonathan Meiburg and Will Robinson Sheff continues to split the songwriting chores equally, with Meiburg's wraith-like falsetto hanging over his gloriously mournful piano progressions and Sheff displaying an impressive eye for detail while contributing the album's most upbeat Americana narratives. Every bit as dejected and lost as their first release, the advanced sense of melody and impressively varied aural textures mark a clear progression in the quality of their songcraft, as the subtly added instrumental touches flesh out the songs perfectly. With Meiburg's voice coming across like an amalgamation of Thom Yorke and Art Garfunkel, his songs dazzle with their profoundly mysterious melodies and understated elegance and are impressively balanced by Sheff's more homespun moroseness and earthy arrangements. Ultimately, as both Meiburg and Sheff are also members of the more hyped Okkervile River, it's somewhat surprising that Everybody Makes Mistakes trumps anything produced by that outfit. Still, their ability to create an album so varied in sound yet so consistent in mood is a true testament to their strength as collaborators and clearly marks their arrival as one of the standout songwriting duos in their genre.
AllMusic Review by Matt Fink