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The Decemberists - Picaresque CD (album) cover


The Decemberists


Prog Folk

3.60 | 70 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Over the last three years, I've been trying now and then to get into this band's world , partly because many progheads like it, and therefore setting my curiosity sensor to 11, only to be cruelly deceived. I mean Decemberists is musically ordinary, stuck somewhere between alternative rock groups like REM, early Radiohead, Oasis, Muse and even sometimes Bowie, the difference being that their albums are definitely conceptual, and come with intriguing and challenging artworks.

Although I've read my fellow reviewer's reviews to try to get this album (as I'd fail to previous one with their help), I ultimately found myself still unable to "get" it. Clearly set on folk music grounds, the album develops. Apart from a weaker moment in the middle of the album, the succession of songs is impeccable, and when listening to it in its entirety, there is a sort of semi-Beatles quality to it. Is it because Decemberists sound often like an acoustic Oasis? Maybe, but I think there is more to than that.

Such an ambitious project doesn't go without an important cast of guest musicians on a variety of familiar instruments, but the weight will obviously carried away by the lyrics, especially that group always made the intelligent choices of avoiding extra texts (which means you fail in your lyrics) and even worse, the extra narratives, like these extra cheesy concept album ala Wakeman etc?.. The downside of having these brilliant but unassisted lyrics is that one must really enjoy the music and be able to listen to it plenty enough for the lyrics finally to seep through. And where things go awry for me, it's that Decemberists' music is simply not deep enough (I mean shallow, not hollow) for me to listen to it sufficiently to really dig it. I mean we're still dealing with light pop/rock music, albeit well written and executed and arranged, but it's not like there are tricky time sigs, lengthy instrumental breaks, or even great interplay between musicians. Sooo you're not looking /hearing prog rock, per se, but their finely crafted pop music into short (? not always) songs into tight story telling themes has some (lotsa) merits.

So, just because IIIIII (yes, moi!!) don't get IT, it doesn't mean that it's no good. As a matter of fact, I DO get the idea and general concept and can see their merit, but I will claim a sort of lone-prowler bearish attitude and wipe it across the room from one paw as non-pertinent to prog. And I probably will see the real click happen a few years down the line. It won't be the first time I missed the right train and had to catch up by taken one sometime later, thus missing the core years of a band/artiste.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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