The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World (Album Review)

Portland indie band The Decemberists hasn’t released an album in four years. This album marks an incredible return for the band. The single for the album is, “Make You Better.” The song is definitely an album highlight. “All I wanted was a shimmer in your shine,” sings Colin Meloy. I think one of my favorite things about the band is the lead singer Meloy. He has this standout quality to his voice that you can’t help but want more of. The band has become memorable for their rather pretentious but always interesting lyrics. The lyrics that the band writes are filled with literary references and typically follow some kind of cohesive theme. Several albums in particular were concept albums. They told tales about pretty much everything and centered around characters that the band makes up.

On this new album, the band gets more personal than they normally do. Colin Meloy dedicated some songs on this album specifically to his wife and children. Of course, some characters were created by the band yet again. This album is also filled with some dedications to the fans, the first song being the most obvious one. The track, “Calvary Captain” is a narrative tale told through the eyes of a (you guessed it) Captain. This storytelling method is something that Meloy has done time and time again throughout his career which is what fans know and love about the band.

The more personal and deep track comes with “12/17/12.” This song talks about the Newton school shooting. More specifically, it talks about President Obama’s address and seems to come from a more personal place as well. Meloy’s lyrics pinpoint how hard grief can be for parents who’ve lost a child especially when you lose them in such horrific circumstances. It seems more personalized since Meloy himself is now a parent and he can understand on a little more deeper what that would be like.

All in all, the album flows together nicely. Yes, parts of it are very familiar to pasts albums the band has released but not in a bad way. They stick to their roots in a way that is destined to please the rather large following this Portland band has accumulated.

Written by Rachel Geiger

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