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The Decemberists: Album Review

The Decemberists have always produced exceptional modern-era, gothic-folk-pop records. Albums which leave listeners scouring lyrics for hidden meaning like they would with a good book.

The band’s been doing this for years. Since their debut album Castaways and Cutouts (2002) The Decemberists have been perfecting their folksy, literary sound. Their latest album, however, is something different, fresh, and exciting.

I’ll Be Your Girl, released just last month, is a leap from the musing American-baroque style that is their signature. On it, the band unveils their interpretation of the synthetic pop sound which dominates modern airwaves. Though it may seem redundant to release a synth rock album when so many other bands are doing just that, The Decemberists prove their genius by doing things differently.

The album’s single “Severed” explains everything you need to know about The Decemberists new direction. The track evokes the defiant and hideous odor of a witches brew of fishnets and neon lights, choked out in a haze of cigarette smoke. Certainly a departure from the vast verandas of their previous work, but one that shows that the band has a comfort zone outside of the hyper-literary.

Everyone has found them self at one point or another counting their stitches on the side of the road after a long night of gallivanting. Even if you haven’t there is still something relatable about “We All Die Young”. An ode to the recklessness inside us all, the song serves as a reminder that no matter how long you think you’ll live, in the grand scheme of things we do all die young. What better reason to unleash your reckless side?

“Rusalka, Rusalka / Wild Rushes” is no doubt the bands best work in years. The song is a throwback to the days when so many first fell in love with The Decemberists. This rock epic with have you begging for another eight minutes. Just remember when you listen to the song, do as they do and turn that shit up to 11.

In a way, I’ll Be your Girl echos The Velvet Underground’s landmark album The Velvet Underground & Nico. On that album Lou Reed took the hippie counterculture and flipped it on it’s head, commenting on the dark underbelly of the movement; the death, the suppression, the abuse. The Decemberists pull off a similar trick here, but still give us plenty of reasons to bang our heads or cut a rug.

Late career reinventions are as difficult to maneuver as they are common. Thankfully, The Decemberists are more than up to the task. While I’ll Be Your Girl may not be anyone’s idea of a classic Decemberists album, it shows that the band still has room to grow and a future to be excited about.

Oh! Don’t forget to catch The Decemberists near Cincinnati: April 24 in Cleveland, OH - June 2nd in Indianapolis, IN - June 5th in Louisville, KY, as well as at Nelsonville Music Festival on June 1st


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