Down the River of Golden Dreams is the record Okkervil River has been threatening to make since its 2000 issue, Stars Too Small to Use. Songwriter Will Sheff has turned out his nicest batch of tunes here and reined in his voice just enough to communicate his ideas without pushing too hard, while simultaneously keeping the urgency and emotive qualities he showcased on the predecessor to this record, Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See. Because of this, Down the River of Golden Dreams is easily the group's most cohesive record to date, and solidifies Okkervil River as a band worthy of scrutiny. The fluidity of Sheff's thoughtful lyrics align with his ability to play with tension, which comes across rather nicely on the jaunty "It Ends with a Fall," the dynamic epic "The War Criminal Rises and Speaks," and the delicate "Maine Island Lovers." The band has grown into a tighter unit with a knack for some nice arrangements -- which again was hinted at on Okkervil River's previous releases, but not fully realized until now. Liberal use of Rhodes, Hammond organ, and Mellotrons is the catalyst of these songs, leading the strings and horns through crescendos and textural landscapes without losing the raw nature that has always suited Okkervil River's honesty and desire to connect with the listener on an emotional level very well.
AllMusic Review by Gregory McIntosh