Uh oh. The Decemberists have sought fit to drag in 'super' producer John Congleton and embrace influences such as Roxy Music and New Order on their eighth album. Safe to say that my dad's not going to like this one little bit. Lead single "Severed" though expertly showcases Congleton's ability to add distortion onto even the whiniest of vocal. Bold or misguided? Looking forward to finding out.
6/10 Robin Staff review, 14 March 2018
That is the worst album art I have ever seen in my life. Of course it’s for a Decemberists’ record. Widely apologised for by a league of listeners (including myself) for unleashing a schematic for prog-twee onto the world, it is entirely predictable that a record by them in 2018 would make pure, unadulterated joy look so unappealing. Whatever badly decorated physical box you get to contain ‘I’ll Be Your Girl’ within, know that the music is loud and beaming, even if it’s never entirely happy.
Actually: this sounds so strange. Untangled and plainspoken, Colin Meloy opens his synth-dappled record with “All My Life”, a laser-beam pop song that starts with his simplest, least character-acted lyric yet: “Oh for once in my life / could just something go right?”, he sings over fake-out acoustic strums that lead into the weirdest Decemberists song I’ve ever heard. The record is this kind of departure: like Samwise Gamgee afraid to step out of the shire and into the world, it keeps one foot in the old, folksy Decemberists style and places one into a whole new landscape of retro, synth and groove.
It’s not a mistake, in itself, but it sounds like there are gaps, and I have to mind them. “Cutting Stone” seems to trip up between its two parts and lose some of its narrative thrust. “Tripping Along” is a meandering mush of a song that takes its electric strums and blows them up with some synth chords that make it busier with sound, but not with meaning. The best moments, such that they are, feel more informed by what the Decemberists know they can do -- “Starwatcher” feels like a sinister folk rock anthem in praise of “The Rake’s Song”, and it soars that way. It's not that I want them to do old Decemberists music, but who will go to the renaissance fair with me now?
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- I'll Be Your Girl by The Decemberists
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