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The Decemberists - Picaresque CD (album) cover

PICARESQUE

The Decemberists

 

Prog Folk

3.58 | 58 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars Really 2.5 stars

Since THE DECEMBERISTS appeared, all the reviews I read sell them as an excellent Prog Folk bad, but when I heard their albums hated them, so decided to avoid reviewing their albums because I had nothing good to say.

But a few days ago decided to give them a new chance and honestly sounded much better, still I don't believe they are a Prog band, as a fact they remind me more and more of "Out of Time" by REM (one of my favourite non Prog albums) with a Folk edge. so being that my impression has improved at least a bit, decided to give them a new chance

"Picaresque" begins with "The Infanta" and from the start we can notice this guys know their business, the rich combination of instruments makes the music simply delightful, the only weak point is in the vocals, not that "Colin Meloy" is a bad singer, but his impersonation of "Michael Stipe" is really annoying. Still it's a very good song.

I have a real problem with "We Both Go Down together", this guys should pay royalties to REM, because this song is almost a copy of "Loosing my Religion", I simply can's understand why guys so obviously skilled and talented have the need to almost copy another song, if it wasn't for the excellent violin performance by "Petra Haden" would had pressed the skip button, again not because lack of quality, but because lack of originality

"Eli the Barrow Boy" marks a change in the mood of the album, at last they don't sound like REM, now they have a clear BEATLES influence, but they do a great work with this influence adding excellent arrangements and an original approach, good but no relation with Progressive Rock.

When the first notes of "The Sporting Life" begun, I knew I would not like this track, no matter how many times I play it, it sounds boring, repetitive and lack of imagination, like some sort of Pop era GENESIS or COLLINS solo material with slightly better vocals, but that same annoying sound.

"The Bagman's Gambit" is sure an improvement (well anything is better than the previous track), the first two minutes are soft and calmed but when this intro ends, they start to sound as some sort of "COLDPLAY" with netter arrangements. The Hammond Organ (Well, sounds as a Hammond), the violin and the beautiful folksy moments make the listening of this song a nice experience...The Classical final section is enjoyable and the surprising coda is shocking.

"From my Own True Love" really touches me, absolutely nostalgic and melancholic, it would be better if it wasn't for the vocals that by this moment are boring me terribly, so without more comment we pass to "16 Military Wives", an excellent Celtic - Pastoral tune with a fantastic acoustic guitar, my only doubt is if by this point "Picaresque" hasn't turned into a "Meloy" solo project rather than a DECEMBERISTS album?

"The Engine Driver" and "On the Bus Mall" are more of the same, even when some female chorus makes them less annoying, so won't talk about them, being that there's nothing new to say.

The album ends with two folk tracks, the accordion driven #The Mariner's Revenge Son" that at least has more original arrangements and the closer "Of Angels and Angels", which makes me yawn from the start.

My conclusions is that the band would sound better if "Colin Meloy" gave the rest of the band more chance to develop their obvious skills and that even when I enjoy some tracks, still can't understand what this Alternative/Folk band is doing in a full Progressive Rock sub.-genre, when Prog Related would be more accurate.

My rating is 2 stars that should be 2.5 if our system allowed it.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 2/5 |

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