The Decemberists - album review (4 stars)


The Crane Wife


(Rough Trade)

It is increasingly difficult to find records that are pure in their intentions. The Decemberists wear their ambitions on their (record) sleeves, wishing to create an album filled with quirks that remains welcoming. It recalls that genteel indie universe of the mid-80s that gave birth to everyone from REM to The Smiths; but also, the Canterbury scene, classic prog and even the odd new wave-ism when the fancy takes it.
The Portland quintet balance whimsy and grandeur with a steady hand, and The Crane Wife has both in spades. Their effusive, ingenious approach permits gothic lullabies to segue into jaunty ten-minute prog-folk song cycles, but this never feels forced, while their lyrical bent favours quaint fables over tired, pseudo-confessional ‘I, me, you’ declarations.
To drop names would only confuse the issue. The band sound as distinct as Arcade Fire, and this album is easily as good as their debut. Yes, it’s that good.

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