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Capitol raised a few eyebrows when they signed indie stalwarts the Decemberists. There's nothing blatantly commercial about the Portland quintet, from Colin Meloy's quavery voice and hyper-literate lyrics to the band's wide-ranging music, which encompasses baroque pop, prog rock, and dozens of other styles. Then again, he did once sing, "I was made for the stage," and those who've seen the group live know this to be true. Sure, they're storytellers, but they're entertainers, too--just not in the Top 40 sense. Never ones to play it safe, their major label debut takes its inspiration from a Japanese folk tale. It travels from the Replacements-style balladry of "The Crane Wife 3"--which joins words like "Each feather it fell from skin/'Til threadbare while she grew thin" to the melody from "Here Comes a Regular"--to the ELP hoedown of three-part epic "The Island" to the haunting duet between Meloy and Laura Veirs on "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)." It's an impressively eclectic effort that somehow manages to avoid sounding scattered. Co-produced by Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie) and Tucker Martine (the Long Winters), the Decemberists's fourth full-length is richer, less immediately catchy than its predecessor (there's nothing as bouncy here as Picaresque's "Sixteen Military Wives"). It's also a deeper work that resists snap judgments. Some records hit you over the head with their brilliance, others need time to percolate. Time will tell if The Crane Wife is the Decemberists's best album--it's certainly their most ambitious so far. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top Customer Reviews
But a major label jump doesn't matter if the end product isn't good. And the Decemberists' fourth full-length album not only preserves their melodious sea-chanty sound, but it is also probably the best work this band has ever done, topping their previous album "Picaresque." From start to finish, this music is warm and enchantingly imaginative.
"And under the boughs unbound/All clothed in a snowy shroud/She had no heart so hardened/All under the boughs unbound," Colin Meloy murmurs in the opening song. The wintry lyrics make a stark contrast to the strummy little tune, fleshed out with intermittent piano. It's catchy and melodious, but much in the way that their previous songs were.
It's a good song, and a solid introduction to a string of similarly good songs, like the folky "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)," rollicking acoustic marches, and dreamy nautical-summer ballads. The Decemberists also dabble a bit in rock in the middle of the album, like the fast-moving riffs of "Perfect Crime #2," before switching back to familiar territory.
The Decemberists started off being good, but rapidly ascended to indie-rock greatness as they grew into their sound and made it more robust. "The Crane Wife" is just the natural progression of that, and it's hard to see how anyone could not like these jolly, catchy songs, with the charming lyrics and poignant imagery. Well, maybe if you don't like the sea.
They take some musical risks as well, with two songs clocking in at over ten minutes apiece.Read more ›
That sad, sadly some of the "authenticity" in put into question due to the fake British accent by the lead singer (who is 100% American).
Most recent customer reviews
One of my favourite Decemberists albums. Not a weak track on it.Published 7 months ago by Rascal Photo
Great music from this modern band. Nice to get it on vinyl. Its a double album splitting the CD into four.Published on Oct. 11 2013 by Stephen