Relative to their previous disc, The Crane Wife, this disc is a letdown; overly pretentious and drawn out while lacking the emotional and musical connect we expect from the Decemberists, and lacking a good, authenic, story.
That said, I DO appreciate their creative efforts and risk-taking, and at time the disk does succeed. As a creative venture, it surely is a good thing for the band's growth. Also, most current fans will nevertheless enjoy it.
That said, while I have nothing against "concept discs" or rock operas, they are extremely difficult to pull off, and for me, this disc only partly pulls it off. Better than most attempts - for sure.