Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


The Decemberists

Prog Folk

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Decemberists Her Majesty album cover
3.10 | 49 ratings | 13 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Shanty For The Arethusa (5:37)
2. Billy Liar (4:08)
3. Los Angeles, I'm Yours (4:17)
4. The Gymnast, High Above The Ground (7:13)
5. The Bachelor And The Bride (4:13)
6. Song For Myla Goldberg (3:33)
7. The Soldiering Life (3:48)
8. Red Right Ankle (3:29)
9. The Chimbley Sweep (2:53)
10. I Was Meant For The Stage (7:02)
11. As I Rise (2:14)

Total Time: 48:27

Line-up / Musicians

- Colin Meloy / electric & acoustic guitars, percussion, lead vocals
- Chris Funk / dobro, guitars (electric, pedal steel, lap steel), Oberheim synth, percussion
- Jenny Conlee / Hammond, piano, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, accordion, percussion, backing vocals
- Jesse Emerson / electric bass, upright bass, percussion
- Rachel Blumberg / drums, percussion, vibraphone, glockenspiel, organ solo (8), backing vocals

- David Lipkind / chromatic harmonica
- Cory Gray / trombone, trumpet, handclapping
- Mike Johnson / string arrangements
- Emily Cox / violin
- Lucia Atkinson / violin
- Bridget Callahan / viola
- Mike Lah / cello
- Kenneth Erlick / handclapping
- Carson Ellis / screaming (1)

Releases information

Artwork: Carson Ellis

LP Jealous Butcher - JB-046 (2003, US)

CD Kill Rock Stars - KRS375 (2003, US)

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy THE DECEMBERISTS Her Majesty Music

THE DECEMBERISTS Her Majesty ratings distribution

(49 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (51%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE DECEMBERISTS Her Majesty reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars The second studio album from the Decemberists doesn’t ‘wow’ me quite the way the first one did for some reason. This is most likely partly due to the novelty having worn off just a bit. Also Colin Meloy’s voice has ceased to be an aural adjustment, and can be enjoyed without the distraction of trying to figure out if he’s some kind of eastern European immigrant (he’s not) or gay (again, not) or an idiot savant or something (could be….).

The excellent attention to content in the lyrics is a strength once again though. Meloy was a creative writing major at the University of Montana, and his sister Maile is an accomplished writer herself. His long-time girlfriend is also an artist, and has done most of the band’s album covers, so there is no shortage of the expressive gene in his world.

This album features a few more eclectic and interesting instruments, including organist Rachel Blumberg on vibraphone and glockenspiel; the multi-talented guitarist Chris Funk on dobro, a pretty countrified pedal steel, and even behind the keyboards on an old Oberheim; the pleasantly goofy Jenny Conlee on all manner of keyboards plus her accordion; several string-playing guests; and of course Meloy himself behind the microphone with his acoustic guitar. Musically this album has a richer sound than ‘Castaways and Cutouts’, although a couple of tunes do wander back well inside the indie realm for a bit.

The opening “Shanty for the Arethusa” is just that – a sea shanty, with some fat steel guitar and an odd tale about some ne’er do wells on their way to Australia, presumably not of their own volition. A nice song but another picture of the seedier side of mankind from a guy who seems to dwell on these types of narratives for some reason.

“Billy Liar” would be featured on an EP a year later. This is a dirty little ditty about – well, remember “She Bop” from Cindy Lauper in the eighties? “Billy Liar's got his hands in his pockets, staring over at the neighbor's, knickers down - he's got his knickers down”. You get the idea, (the little pervert).

Then it’s on to one of those rather forgettable generic indie tunes with “Los Angeles, I’m Yours”. Other than the acoustic guitar and the clever instrumental bridge featuring strings and the Oberheim, this is not overall a particularly strong track. Same goes for “The Gymnast, High Above the Ground” really, although the percussion and mildly syncopated drumming are charming, and the female backing vocals are the same ones that I found so pleasant on “Grace Cathedral Hill” from the first album (Conlee I presume).

“The Bachelor and the Bride” features probably the Decemberist’s most callous and brutal lyrics, though their meaning is a bit unclear. Musically this is a rather tepid tune, but once again the words tell of a baby, apparently drowned, a barren bride, a her husband getting ready to don his wife-beaters. Really strange, though probably there is a literature geek among us who knows the source of this tale.

The Decemberists are often compared to R.E.M., particularly their first few albums before they got pretentiously weird. “Song for Myla Goldberg” is one reason why this is a reasonably valid comparison. Other than Conlee’s backing vocals, the rest of this song sounds like something right off of ‘Murmur’ or ’Reckoning’, and as near as I can tell the connection to Ms. Goldberg is tenuous at best.

At this point many sophomore efforts from bands start to introduce the filler tracks. Not so here. “The Soldiering Life” is a brothers-in-arms kind of ditty, singing the praises of the male bonding that facing the enemy in battle together can bring. Knowing this band, I think there is some sarcasm here, but whatever – it’s a nice tune, and the horns are a great touch at the end.

Another heavily acoustic track with “Red Right Ankle”, which is supposedly a love song from Meloy to his girlfriend, who is in fact a freckled redhead, so I guess this makes sense. Every band needs at least one love ballad I suppose, so check that one off the list.

“The Chimbley Sweep” drags out the pedal steel and lap guitar, as well as some odd keys (Oberheim, vibraphone – I have no idea). The organ is really cool – can’t think of a better word than that. This is another reason I think Meloy is a Vonnegut fan – there are these unimpressive, everyday characters who seem to recur throughout a lot of Meloy’s songs, both with the Decemberists and even in his earlier work with Tarkio. This was very much a Vonnegut trait. A really silly and kind of passively happy tune.

“I Was Meant for the Stage” was clearly written as a statement to Meloy’s family, who apparently did not approve of his career choice (I think his dad is a lawyer, and his sister was a Harvard graduate, so this surely isn’t what the family had in mind for their little Colin). This is his modern, folk, nerdy drama-club geek version of “Juke Box Hero”, “Know Who You Are”, and “I Did it My Way” wrapped into one. A musical life- affirmation. The band does this one from the stage on their concert DVD, and if the delivery doesn’t bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye, then you my sir are a heartless cad. I get goosebumps every time I hear it. Supertramp fans will understand for sure.

The finale comes with “As I Rise”, a little slide guitar, slow snares, honky-tonk piano, and the feel of Woodie Guthrie and maybe a little Grateful Dead too. A nice finish.

Like I said, this one doesn’t grab me the way the first album did, and there are a couple of less than awesome tracks, but still a very solid effort all around. “I Was Meant for the Stage” and “Shanty for the Arethusa” give it a bit of an extra bump. Four stars and well worth picking up.


Review by kenethlevine
2 stars I guess it is a mistake to assume a linear progression in a group's sound. After throughly enjoying the Decemberists' last two albums as of this date, and as a folkie at heart, I assumed that "Her Majesty" would lean to that end of the spectrum. Instead, it is their most obtuse and lackadaisical effort, combining the few weak aspects of both "Picaresque" and "Crane Wife" while emitting nary a trace of kinetic energy.

From the start of the intriguingly titled "Shanty for the Arethusa", it is apparent that something is very wrong. The whole piece is like a 5 and a half minute introduction, a collection of fits and starts with suspense but no denouement. Meloy's tendency to coy melodrama and smarminess is not kept in check enough here, and it cheapens material that is dynamically challenged to begin with, such as "Los Angeles I'm Yours", "Gymnast" , "Myla Goldberg", and the horrendous "I Was Meant for the Stage". This material winds up being both brocaded and spare at the same time, in a way that leaves me wanting less, or more, of both. Too many other songs are just ok, not offensive but not in any way memorable either, like "The Bachelor and the Bride" and "As I Rise".

A few more enthusiastic songs help salvage this disappointment from outright expulsion, those being "Billy Liar" and "The Chimbley Sweep" both showing evidence of future potential, but I cannot even abide "Her Majesty" let alone worship her.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars The Decemberists were a kind of fresh air bubble with their debut album "Castaways And Cutouts". They delivered great and melodic tracks (at least for half of the album).

As soon as you started to listen to this follow-up effort, the feeling is not the same. The opener "Shanty For The Arethusa" is a weird song of which I only like the upbeat parts (but then it is quite fine to be honest).

Several songs of this album are average to good at best. Too childish ("Billy Liar") or too uninspired ("Los Angeles, I'm Yours"), too minimalist and mellowish (The Gymnast) or simply lacking of the minimum passion I was expecting from this band ( I Was Meant For The Stage).

There are hardly any highlights. Just a bundle of soft rock songs with a certain folk feeling but passionless. It is rather a disappointment after the good moments that were offered on their debut album.

I understand that a band can't always be at its zenith, but this is quite an abrupt downhill. Even if the lyrics of "The Soldiering Life" are worth, these brass are quite invading (I admit that I usually don't like these).

This album is too much a collection of similar atmosphere and I just have disconnected after a few of these. To listen to this album from start to finish is not a rewarding experience. Some songs from the second part of this album being rather weak and dull ("Red Right Ankle", "The Chimbley Sweep" or the country and western oriented closing As I Rise).

"Her Majesty" is an album I can hardly recommend: you'd better stick to their good debut one. Hopefully, they will do better.

Two stars.

Review by The Whistler
4 stars Bang. Her Majesty finds The Decemberists about twenty seven times as sure of themselves as on the previous album. You need only compare the opening number here to the opener of Castaways and Cutouts: Castaways opened with a slow paced folk number, perfectly charming in its own right. However, Her Majesty opens with a blast of sound effects, not music; the band goes on to tackle a full blown sea shanty, except it goes beyond sea shanty, tossing in gruesome, gothic rock effects, going deeper and cleverer than they would have dared a year ago. And that album opener is probably the best tune, “Shanty For The Arethusa.” It’s a terribly depressing, initially shiver sending...well, “Shanty.” It’s about ghosts and the ocean and doomed voyages to Australia and all that. The lyrics are intriguing (who else but Colin Meloy could sing about a “Jewess and Mandarin Chinese boy” and get away with it?), but it’s the downbeat, martial chorus that really sells the song.

Strange then that it’s followed by something so bouncy and upbeat, in fact, one of the few truly upbeat songs on the record. “Billy Liar” is a fantastic, nostalgic, pop folk rocker, with an effortlessly pretty chorus and sufficiently intelligent lyrics to please your friends. “Los Angeles, I’m Yours” is a dreamy indie folk ballad grounded mainly by the acoustic guitar, but the keyboard effects coupled with the orchestra give it an almost ELP feel at points. Maybe it’s just because the song namedrops my favorite city (and not even in the best light mind you), but I like it.

“The Gymnast, High Above the Ground” is the first epic on the album...and it’s also the first spot that’s not pure brilliance. Still, the build that leads into the song is kinda interesting, and the payoff is adequately stirring, pretty even. Seven minutes might be a tad long, but it uses its length wisely enough. “The Bachelor and the Bride” is a presented like another poppy folk number, but the lyrics recount some kind of terrifying premarital encounter between the titular characters. Well, it’s oddly pleasant music either way (fantastic flutes backed by jazzy drumming, I should say).

“Song for Myla Goldberg” is probably the only spot on the album where I’d call foul. It’s a rousing enough number, and marching band drumming and repeated phrasing certainly gives the song catchiness, but here catchiness is a curse; the band is back in “we don’t care” mode, and the whole thing can come off as irritating when the mood catches me wrong. What a treat then that “The Soldiering Life” comes up next. It’s pretty much an amalgam of what’s right with the album: a downbeat, memorable, well produced song that manages to cause toes to tap, show off an orchestra (the horns), utilize a weird topic (the almost romantic fraternity of World War I soldiers), and throw in just a touch of beauty for good measure (the chorus). In other words, it’s great.

If it’s a touch of beauty you’re after though, “My Red Right Ankle” should do you fine. All acoustic, just guitars and Colin singing, and it might last just a couple seconds too long...but if it catches you on the right leg, it can transform into an emotional powerhouse. God knows how. The definite highlight “The Chimbley Sweep” has since become a stage favorite, and I can understand why. It basically takes the “Legionnaire’s Lament” line from the first album, and makes it thrice as aggressive. If you ever want to hear the Decemberists rock out, as only a band that sings hard rockers (complete with accordions) about the sexual adventures of vengeful Victorian orphans, then this is YOUR song. Seriously. Great Chris Funk solo on this one.

As towering as “Chimbley” was fast, “I Was Meant For Stage” is the second epic of the album. Relying even more on build (starting off with acoustic, adding band members, brining in orchestra, etc.), once again, there is not a lot of material over these seven minutes...but once again, I kind of fail to notice. The tune itself is pure, and the deconstruction (excuse me, demolition) it receives at the finish is a suitable way to end the song I’d say. Certainly gives the self sure theatrical lyrics a final twist of irony. But as suitable as that would have been, the album instead ends with “As I Rise,” which also comes off as suitable. Probably because it’s anticlimactic after “Stage;” certainly it doesn’t hurt that the country- western ditty is pleasant as can be.

So, as you can see, an improvement over the first album. Yeah. I said it. Castaways was a charming, charming record, and I think it’s great...but I cannot argue with the confidence that this album exudes. The Castaways band would never had had the guts to play something like “Shanty” or “Billy Liar;” if they did, it would have sounded clumsy and unsure.

I also enjoy the lyrics more and more. Colin is really starting to become a master wordsmith, being capable of wielding bizarre imagery with the comic, and occasionally scraping at beauty. I mean, I somehow doubt that there can be very many stories about the “boys who’ve loved me,” but being placed in that song (“Red Right Ankle”) honestly does hit me in a personal way somehow.

Finally, the band is coming to realize that there’s more to epics than just taking a couple of ideas and playing them for a while. Okay, okay, so neither “Gymnast” nor “Stage” features a plethora of musical ideas, but each one is using dynamics and effects and, damn it, gimmicks in a creative enough manner to keep me interested.

Factor in the upped production values (I like orchestras) and hugely increased diversity of the album (hey! The Decemberists can play more than overlong indie folk!), and you’ve got a winner. I still shun a couple of moments on the record, particularly in the middle, where the material takes on a “pleasant, but not terribly striking” air, and certainly nothing ever quite lives up to the quality of the first two songs. But still, a very mature record for so young a band. They haven’t quite done their masterpiece, but they’re getting there.

Review by russellk
3 stars 'Her Majesty The Decemberists' establishes THE DECEMBERISTS as purveyors of high-quality folk rock, but takes a step back from its predecessor in terms of progressive content. This album has the feel of an ambitious band in search of a definitive sound. In fact, I suspect the band had temporarily lost its way.

The album opens with the difficult sea shanty 'Shanty for the Arethusa'. Difficult because there isn't a melody or hook to hang on to, just an unsettling rhythm - which is exactly what COLIN MELOY intended. The music reflects the lyrics. Fans of this band understand that the lyrics are an integral part of the package, and the problematic nature of colonisation is being interrogated here: the attitudes towards aborigines, the human cargo in the ships, the link between slavery and commerce. It almost works. 'Billy Liar' almost works, too, but fails for the opposite reason to the opener: it is too obviously THE DECEMBERISTS' take on 'Arnold Layne'. Jaunty tunes and risque lyrics match each other but don't do more than amuse.

This is typical of the album. Obtuse or obvious, these are interesting vignettes presented with care and clarity, but they somehow fail to engage the listener. The drama of life is lost amid the prosaic: 'I can see your undies.' I do enjoy the lyrics, though. The wry irony of the album's best song, 'Los Angeles, I'm Yours', in which the singer hates the city he loves, is delicious. 'The Bachelor and the Bride' is darker, returning to a common MELOY preoccupation with sexuality and power. 'Song for Myla Goldberg' is impenetrable. 'The Soldiering Life' is a chance to explore the love men can have for each other, and MELOY does it well. You'll notice I'm not mentioning the music, because on this album it is too subservient to the lyrics. The band simply doesn't offer enough entertainment to make their sometimes dark messages palatable.

To me one of the enduring traits of progressive rock is overarching themes expressed by dramatic music. This material examines the small things, using gentle tunes and understated arrangements. Again I am reminded of the comparison with BRUCE COCKBURN, who did this sort of thing twenty years ago (check out 'The Trouble with Normal' and 'Big Circumstance') with more verve and a greater acuity of vision. By no means could this album be construed as prog, nor is it anything more than a wry stepping stone on the way to more consequential work. It is good, no doubt, and reeks of merit, but it simply does not engage.

Review by horsewithteeth11
3 stars 2 steps forward and 3 steps backwards.

That's pretty much how I sum up the second album from The Decemberists. Their debut is a fantastic piece of music and one that I think quite highly of. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for this album. The main issue is that some of the songs here really like any punch or energy to them. Whenever I finish listening to Her Majesty, I have a hard time remembering what the individual tracks sound like. They always seem to come and go in a blur. It also seems like every song on here sounds pretty similar. There's not the kind of variation that is present from their debut. Many of them follow the generic formula of a slow, quiet buildup at the beginning, a slightly more energetic (but not much more) and catchy chorus before moving back to near silent verses in the same pattern over and over again. While Colin Meloy is one of my favorite modern vocalists, they seem to be pushed forward more in this album. It almost feels like he was deliberately trying to make a more commercial album. And while I wouldn't mind this if the music was good, it's not. The production makes it sound like the instruments were all masked out slightly. So instead of offering the one-two punch with Meloy's vocals, this album swings and misses fairly often.

Despite my negative criticism, this is far from being a bad album. Hardcore fans of the band will find enough here to please them, but casual ones should stay away from this one. Flirting in between 2 and 3 stars, there's not quite enough for me to warrant a 2 star rating. Some of the songs, like the two main ballads in "The Gymnast, High above the Ground" and "I Was Meant for the Stage" as well as the humorous "Billy Liar", are fairly memorable. Most of the other songs past by in a flicker though. 3 stars for this being a fairly average outing by The Decemberists' standards. If you're looking into the band, this should be the last release you acquire.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For the first time ever, I heard an album from The Decemberists I did not immediately like. The sound is "stripped bare," and the arrangements not exactly satisfying. Were I to guess The Decemberists's first album, I'd say this is probably it, because in general it sounds like the demo for a Colin Meloy solo project. The feminine backup singing is repressed but present, and the keyboards are almost absent. It's a very good album, but quite weak next to its siblings.

"Shanty for the Arethusa" As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this album did not immediately warm to me, and this song is largely responsible for why. It's noisy, gritty, and somewhat disjointed. I have grown to love it, mainly due to the always pleasing vocal melody and the lyrics.

"Billy Liar" There's a variety of literary inspiration for this, most notable Dylan Thomas's made-for-radio play Under Milk Wood. The first three lines are not exactly coy- one of the themes seems to clearly be young male masturbation. The music is jaunty, catchy, and a hell of a lot of fun to dance to.

"Los Angeles, I'm Yours" A song evidently about the love/hate relationship one can have with a big city, this one has lyrics about sluts and drug dealers, and yet the narrator finds all of this debauchery and sickness to be at once unpalatable and home- in other words, another home run lyrically for the ever-adept Meloy. Musically, it has a pleasant vamp, with chords pumped forth like Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets."

"The Gymnast, High Above The Ground" Arguably the most beautiful song on the album, this has a thudding acoustic guitar and a sweet melody. The lyrics are rather obscure (surprise, right?), but I think they are about getting to the place we intend to get to, albeit accidentally and through no credit of our own. Whatever the case, it's a gorgeous piece, and even speculating on the meaning is a delight. The last four lines, a refrain of "April marches on," is particularly, yet inexplicably, bittersweet.

"The Bachelor And The Bride" Powerful acoustic guitar and, as usual, a highly memorable vocal melody, make up the bulk of this dark track. I dig the bass solo, simple and short though it may be, and how it brings back the rest of the group. My only guess about this one is that it is not about literature, but about a painting. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even is a painting by Marcel Duchamp. That's about all can offer- the painting makes as much sense to me as brides do in general.

"Song For Myla Goldberg" The titular person is a real one, an writer Meloy actually worked for. She is the New York author who wrote "Bee Season," a novel. This song makes one pay attention to the wordplay despite the incredibly catchy melody- which make sense, since the novel in question is about spelling bees, which come around! Instrumentally, there are some interesting moments, particularly in terms of keyboard.

"The Soldiering Life" A fairly short, upbeat song, that seems to hint at homoeroticism in the midst of war among soldiers.

"Red Right Ankle" A somehow heartrending yet somehow charming acoustic song, this has much more of a visceral impact than an intellectual one. Regarding its exact meaning, I am lost. However, I hear it is about Meloy's ex-girlfriend, who created several of the groups cover artwork.

"The Chimbley Sweep" A simple piece, this has some bad mixing as well as gritty guitar; overall, it sounds like heavy dark cabaret. Apparently, like "Billy Liar," this song seems to be inspired from Thomas's aforementioned play. It tells of a forlorn boy who was left on a doorstep when he was an infant, sweeps chimneys all day, but indulges in some, well, fringe benefits (like widows) along the way.

"I Was Meant For The Stage" At last, this seems to be a song about Meloy himself. It appears to be a message to his family (and the world), that this business of being in front of people (both in being applauded and derided) was his occupational purpose. This one morphs into a heavy, avant-garde beast (like the first song) also- another reason I find this album harder than their others to listen to.

"As I Rise" I really wish the album had ended with that last powerful piece, but, for some reason, the band decides to tack on this goofy little ditty, which is exaggerated country music. I like it, with the lap steel guitar and the honky-tonk piano, but it sounds a bit forced and unnatural.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars So far, collab ratings for this are as following: 2x2, 2x3, 2x4. I'll add 1x3 but still, something is raising it higher - members are (as usual), with their 4-star average rating. What's the point of saying this ? Try to guess. If you won't find it out, just leave it be as "nonsense" (heh).

Music here is quite strange folk. It's not folk I'm used to listen (indie folk anybody?), it's a pleasant one, as it was my first venture to TD territory and I was surprised how "different" it is from what I expected to be prog. Colin Meloy's vocals are pleasant (they are, it's their biggest advantage, even he's not as gifted singer as some others in rock music, even he can do wonders with it).

3(+), but I hesitate between this and 4(-), because it's weird case. I probably can enjoy this album and "probably" (yes, I don't know) like it, but I'm not sure. It would be better to give lower and hope that next ones will sound better. I don't like myself for doing this, as I would like to give them more, but I can't. The sound here is really (as Epignosis said), demo-like. Maybe I'm too influenced by polished Hazards (but note that even they're not exactly clean)

Review by Warthur
3 stars At first listen, The Decemberist's Her Majesty isn't an album I'd put forward for the prog folk category. The band's roots in the indie folk scene are very apparent throughout this baroque and occasionally twee album, and a cursory early listen didn't suggest much to me which was progressive about it. But on repeated listens I find that the band do succeed in building in little quirks and twists here and there which taken as a whole are suggestive of their more ambitious and experimental works. If this were an indie rock site I'd give it three and a half stars, but this is progarchives so three stars is the best I can do.
Review by Neu!mann
3 stars The second release from the "brickbats and Bowery toughs" of Portland, Oregon tried a little too hard to maintain the charm of their earlier "Castaways and Cutouts" album, with mixed results. That defining quirkiness was still intact, and still amusing in a sometimes precious sort of way, but Colin Meloy's trademark adenoidal twang sounds a little forced in retrospect ("I felt a little stymied", he later said, "by the ticking of the studio clock...")

You can almost hear the effort that went into the recording. A lot of extraneous instrumentation was thrown into the mix, possibly to hide the cracks in some otherwise flimsy compositions: assorted horns, stray percussion, and so forth. A sign of ambition, or performance overkill? Some of it works, like the sea-salt stage effects in the opening "Shanty for the Arethusa". But some of it is merely distracting, for example the gumbo of strings in "Los Angeles, I'm Yours", and surrounding "The Gymnast, High Above the Ground".

The latter, at seven-plus minutes long, was clearly meant to be the album's centerpiece, but musically the song is too diffuse to be entirely effective. Ditto the climactic "I Was Meant For the Stage", a concert staple in years to come but not yet fully realized, despite its fascinating breakdown into chaotic dissonance. Elsewhere a potential Decemberist classic like "The Soldiering Life" suffers from what sounds like a rushed arrangement, possibly under the same studio stopwatch that vexed Meloy so much.

Lyrically the album can boast some of his sharpest writing to date, as usual with a cosmopolitan flair for antiquated imagery: chimbleys and knickers and whalebone corsets, in exotic Old World settings redolent of "incense, cardamom and myrrh". And yet, for better or worse, Meloy decided to dial back the anachronisms on this album, exercising his Indie Rock roots more than his Alt Prog aspirations. For proof I direct your wandering attention to the song "Los Angeles, I'm Yours", celebrating an unlikely port-of-call for such an unabashed Anglophile, especially when sung as "Los Angel-ees" (is that how its pronounced in Montana, Colin?)

Bottom line: the band's sophomore album isn't as solid as the '02 debut. But as a placeholder marking time until the return of their muse, it gets the job done. Two-and-a-half stars, rounded up by a forgiving admirer.

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars The Decemberists are known for their sort of antique, hand-crafted brand of folk/prog, and while Her Majesty definitely has a style and tone consistent with the group's other albums, this one lacks the creative spark to grab hold of the listener and leave much of an impression by its conclusion.

It's hard exactly to pinpoint what holds Her Majesty back. Maybe its the song writing, which lose depth and creativity as the album goes on. Maybe its Meloy's very exposed vocals, and comparatively uninspired vocals. We just aren't given that much to catch our interest, as song after song goes by in a folksy, twangy mish-mash of acoustic sounds. The whole album sounds sort of like B-sides, or unfinished works in need of a sharper production and edit for impact.

Still, the bands's playing is good overall, giving us some interesting tones that emerge from an otherwise bland entry from the otherwise engaging band. One for the fans.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Latest members reviews

5 stars But if you listen, quiet, you can hear the footsteps on the cross-trees, the ghosts of sailors past, their spectral bodies clinging to the shrouds. Say what you will about The Decemberists' inclusion here, but one thing is undeniable, these guys have an immense, charming appeal and they know how ... (read more)

Report this review (#162075) | Posted by moreitsythanyou | Sunday, February 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's hard to believe this album is a progressive album on first spin. I was introduced to this band through this sight and the two songs they have to offer: "Shanty for the Arethusa" and "The Mariner's Revenge Song" both of which catch my ear. So I picked up this album, since I thought 'Shanty f ... (read more)

Report this review (#138715) | Posted by mothershabooboo | Sunday, September 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of THE DECEMBERISTS "Her Majesty"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.