The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

The Decemberists continue to develop their sound while keeping a familiarity that has steadily grown them a devoted fan base. This their 7th studio album is no exception, from the upbeat openers with the Arcade Fire style richness and fuller sound to the more folksy sparse tracks the band are still evolving and yet keep one foot in their influences and tradition. Employing a range of instruments the songs can shift from lo-fi picked guitar to full on brass sections and with some carefully layered vocal harmonies the sound is one almost unique to the band and obviously helped by Meloy’s distinctive voice. Songs like ‘Cavalry Captain’ and ‘12/17/12’ couldn’t be further apart in terms of the music and yet within the context of the album work so well together. The same could be said for the more modern opener ‘The Singer Addresses His Audience’ against say the more traditional stomp of ‘Better Not Wake the Baby’.  Apart from Meloy’s vocal the bands other secret weapon comes in the form of Jenny Conlee (keyboards, piano, Hammond organ, accordion) her keys once more add cohesion to the overall sound. While slightly less experimental than some of their earlier work but much more accessible to the casual listener ‘What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World’ is a great addition to the Decemberists canon.


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