|Decemberists, The / Picaresque|
|Add Date:||2005-05-15|| ||Pull Date:||2005-07-17|| |
|Week Ending:||17 Jul||10 Jul||3 Jul||26 Jun||19 Jun||12 Jun||5 Jun||29 May|
Acoustic, literate, chamber intelli-wacky pop. How I love the Decemberists! Think Hidden Cameras mixed with Neutral Milk Hotel. |
The band’s leader Colin Meloy writes Victorian themed songs, with imagery varied from the “cliffs of Dover”, to a “barrow boy” to elephants and camels. Colin also writes great melodies, which sound great in the chamber instrumentation, from the acoustic guitars through the Hammond to accordion (less lap steel than previous albums). Colin also manages to pull off a Victorianesque affectation, and use words like parapets, phalanx, folderol, palanquin (in the first track only!) without sounding pretentious. Play the Decemberists or I’ll push you up a chimney!
Okay, and now for a negative comment: while the band has been getting more and more [deserved] publicity, peaking at an NPR Fresh Air 10-minute segment, they have also kind of stagnated. The last 3 full albums have many repeated musical and lyrical themes. While still charming and beautiful, if the next one will not demonstrate some considerable evolution... I guess I will still like them. But I hope they will grow.
Anyway, back to the present. I resisted picking all the tracks. Instead: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 would be a good start.
1. ** Tense, intense rolling drum beat, thick synths and backdrop to upbeat acoustic strum. “and we'll all come praise the infanta”: bonus points if you know what “infanta” is (Terry Gross didn’t). **
2. * Midtempo swing, strings, a Romeo and Juliet story. *
3. *** Mellow, one of the signature Decemberists tracks, simple but beautiful chord changes, heartbreaking Dickensian lyrics. Acoustic strum, touch of accordion, Pretty, pretty, pretty. ***
4. * Mid/upbeat, a lovely capture of a losing moment in a sporting life. *
5. Quiet ballad with loud chorus (watch levels!) about – what – spies? Government agents? Outlaws? “Purloined in Petrograd”. Nice strings in bridge last 2 minutes, frenzy builds up, ends during quiet part.
6. ** Another mellow classic, dramatic distant gong and strumming, “Mister postman, do you have a letter for me?”. ** Very long fade out, gong only last 20 secs.
7. * Upbeat, bouncy, trumpets, jolly and full sound bed. Anti-imperialism number – “Cause America can, And America can't say no, and America does if America says it so”. Ends abruptly into next track’s intro*
8. Mid tempo ballad, nice vocal harmonies, pretty, I just can’t star yet another track.
9. Mid/slow tempo, full sound, electric guitar makes a subtle showing, about runaways.
10. ** Signature Decemberists bizarre epic. Accordion carries the theme, more instruments build up. Set in the belly of a whale, tells the tale of how that facilitates a long-due revenge “Throw him to a hole until he Wakes up naked Clawing at the ceiling of his grave”. **
11. Nick-Drakey delicate, pretty morning-like tune, but dark lyrics.