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The Decemberists

Prog Folk

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The Decemberists What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World album cover
2.68 | 37 ratings | 4 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Singer Addresses His Audience (4:43)
2. Cavalry Captain (3:18)
3. Philomena (3:05)
4. Make You Better (5:08)
5. Lake Song (5:52)
6. Till The Water's All Long Gone (5:00)
7. The Wrong Year (3:53)
8. Carolina Low (3:24)
9. Better Not Wake the Baby (1:45)
10. Anti-Summersong (2:12)
11. Easy Come, Easy Go (2:22)
12. Mistral (3:54)
13. 12/17/12 (3:03)
14. A Beginning Song (5:22)

Total Time 52:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Colin Meloy / lead vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, bouzouki, harmonica, backing vocals
- Chris Funk / acoustic & electric guitars, banjo, bouzouki, mandolin
- Jenny Conlee / piano, Hammond, vibraphone, accordion
- Nate Query / electric bass, upright bass
- John Moen / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Victor Nash / trumpet
- Anna Fritz / cello
- Kyleen King / viola
- Patti King / violin
- Rob Moose / violin, fiddle, string arrangements
- Rachel Flotard / backing vocals
- Kelly Hogan / backing vocals
- Laura Veirs / backing vocals
- Ragen Fykes / backing vocals
- Moorea Masa / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Carson Ellis

2xLP Capitol Records ‎- B002212001 (2015, US)

CD Capitol Records ‎- B002212102 (2015, US)
CD Rough Trade ‎- RTRADCD756 (2015, US)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE DECEMBERISTS What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(22%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

THE DECEMBERISTS What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by jammun
3 stars I'm the last holdout, the last believer, apparently, as I continue to like this band. Look, I miss The Engine Driver as much as the next guy. So call this Picaresque Part II. What a fine piece of music is this one. What a fine piece of 60's British Invasion/psychedelia, half-ways anyways because of the folky parts. I don't get the REM comparisons, because I never listened to REM.

For those expecting the most recent Prog, replete with lightning guitars and swirling synths, etc., you'll be disappointed, possibly more disappointed even than you were with The King Is Dead. I mean, this is not even Americana. Well, not Americana Americana. It's more like Brittanica Americana. You could put few of these songs on Nuggets and no one would be the wiser. You could put a few on some British Invasion Anthology. You could put the other half anywhere, and they'd shine like a tarnished silver ring bearing one centered oval turquoise stone.

You get your usual anthemics (Make You Better, A Beginning Song) and stoner bliss (Lake Song). And some nuggets.

I dock this thing at least a star due to lack of pedal steel.

In these hyper-ad driven days, this is not a great way to build your brand. And yet I listen to the shamelessly'what, Herman's Hermits with dirty lyrics'flat-out joy of Philomena. The band is still more than capable of surprises, and this is a nice addition to their catalog.

Review by Neu!mann
2 stars The first Decemberists album after a four-year recess continued in the same, mainstream direction as "The King is Dead", to the dismay of anyone who, like me, first discovered the group through their ambitious "The Hazards of Love" project in 2009. Since then the band has retooled its idiosyncratic style in pursuit of a more commercial muse, playing shorter songs with fewer eccentricities, explicitly tailored for lower common denominator NPR airplay.

There's nothing wrong with that. When properly motivated, Colin Meloy can still write incredibly well-crafted pop songs ("Make You Better") and lovely acoustic ballads ("Lake Song", and is that a Mellotron I hear over the chorus?). But the material here sounds oddly disengaged, lacking even the lightweight thread of backwoods Americana that held the "King" album loosely together.

"We had to change some", Meloy insists at the start of the album, in a narcissistic ditty transparently named "The Singer Addresses His Audience". The author denies any autobiographical bias, but I don't believe it: he's too smart not to realize the song plays like a slap in the face to longtime fans who treasured the band's originality. We get it, Colin: you've outgrown that trademark antique Victorian charm and tongue-in-cheek narrative whimsy. Change is good, but not when you're defending your weakest album to date (and still performing "The Mariner's Revenge Song" on stage).

Ironically, "The Singer Addresses..." is by far the album's strongest track: a thrilling return to form, at least musically. Elsewhere the songs too often go in one ear and out the other, and thankfully too: "Easy Come, Easy Go", as Meloy sings in the (almost) catchy rocker of the same name. That old-thyme American folk sound from "The King is Dead" resurfaces in "Carolina Low" and "Better Not Wake the Baby" (what was that you said about needing to change, Colin..?) And the band hits rock bottom in the twin nadirs of "Cavalry Captain" and "Philomena", the former sounding not unlike the worst of '80s Phil Collins (but with pithier lyrics), and the latter a fluffy pop nonentity with atypically smarmy lyrics unworthy of the pen that wrote "The Crane Wife".

Let's hope such a unique songwriter, who describes himself (in "Lake Song") as being at one time "seventeen and terminally fey", soon grows tired of career-building and reconnects with the buoyant spirit of his wayward youth.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Ah, The Decemberists. A few years ago they were darlings of the progressive folk genre, having released the very good The Crane Wife and the utterly fantastic The Hazards of Love. However, many were unhappy with their move towards the Americana pop/rock style on The King is Dead. Now, in 2015, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1376037) | Posted by FunkyM | Sunday, March 1, 2015 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The Derivativists? It's no secret that The Decemberists have turned their back on their more pioneering earlier folk prog sound for that of an indie rock band with their last album The King is Dead. So, we fast forward to this new 2015 offering from the band entitled What a Terrible World, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1347835) | Posted by SteveG | Sunday, January 18, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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