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The Decemberists - The Crane Wife CD (album) cover


The Decemberists


Prog Folk

3.99 | 163 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars After Picaresque revealed what the band was capable of, The Decmeberists underwent a few lineup chages and signed to a major label. Sadly, Petra Haden is gone, but the band got a huge gain with guitarist Chris Funk, who would later duel Stephen Colbert and Peter Frampton. The Crane Wife is another step forward for the band and now the lyrics and music have come into fruition.

Keeping with Meloy's habit of out of order stories, The Crane Wife 3 opens the album witht he conclusion of the story. This is a great opener, which makes it all the more bizarre, since it should be a closer. The Island follows, and it is the best song The Decemberists have recorded so far in their career. A 12 minute epic that follows the sad tales of various people living on what is billed as an island paradise. The sections flow inot one another beautifully, and Meloy shows what a great vocalist he is. The song traverses moods from peppy acoustic to dark electric effortlessly. Other highlights include the rest of the title track, the tragic Civil War tale Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then), the incredibly light and poppy O Valencia!, the contrasting lovely summer imagery and death imagery of Summersong, and the catchy closer Sons & Daughters. All of these tracks mix great storytelling lyrics with unique and wonderful arrangements. Shankill Buthcers and When the War Came have excellent and serious lyrics, but the compostion just doesn't excite me the way it does on the other songs. The Perfect Crime #2 has great compostion but the lyrics aren't good.

Despite a few weak tracks, The Crane Wife is one of the more enjoyable albums of modern prog, as The Decemberists blend indie pop and prog folk almost flawlessly. The use of classical instruments and 19th century sounding music (this music sounds like it would be played in saloons) makes The Decemberists a strikingly unique band, and their moderate commercial success is surprising (no doubt helped by the appearance on the Colbert Report). If the trend of ever improving albums continue, this Portland band will soon be churning out masterpieces.

Grade: B+

1800iareyay | 4/5 |


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