In today’s music world, it gets harder and harder to stand out and set yourself apart. That is where I would have to congratulate this folk unit from Portland, Oregon. Providing a unique twist, a refreshing take on What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, as with the rest of The Decemberists’ catalogue, is what places this latest release between a diamond in the rough and a pure gem.
The beauty in the album lies in the mature and personal points on the album: serious relationships, marriage, and raising a child.
The standouts of the album are the obvious, more poppy singles, “The Wrong Year” and “Make You Better”, which have most likely graced your radio in recent days. “Make You Better”, the band’s first single, gleams with vibrant splashes of piano chords surrounded by neat guitar riffs.
Songs like “Carolina Low” and “Cavalry Captain” are the backbone of the album, and a return to a narrative tone and the classic writing of lead singer Colin Meloy. In this same mix is the fun and energizing track “Philomena” filled with furtively sensual lyrics accompanied by female vocals.
The growth and personal moments of the album can be seen on “12/17/12”, a reference to Obama’s speech in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, but also to introspection elements as Meloy focuses on mixed feelings about the event and his comfortable life. But the front man isn’t alone as this harsh contrast is one we’ve all been faced with each time we turn on the news.
If you’re a Decemberists fan, if you’re looking for a classic Decemberists album, you won’t be disappointed, it’s all there on What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. It carries all The Decemberists’ landmark features, and extravagant vocabulary. Amidst the drawn out tracks, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, is a refreshing satisfying effort, demonstrating growth from The Decemberists, and leaving you wondering what will come next for them.
Review by Sean Carlin | @seancarlin89