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The Decemberists - Picaresqueties CD (album) cover


The Decemberists


Prog Folk

2.63 | 5 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The thing that I find most amusing about this EP is how radically different it is from Picaresque in structure (well, that and the name). Are these outtakes from that album? If so, I can see why; they aren’t NEARLY as built up as they ought to be. Heh. These sound more like bizarre, futuristic toss offs from the first album. I tend to say that for every Decemberists EP, don’t I? It just means that the most violent the orchestration on these songs gets is slide guitar. Besides that, I’m pretty sure that piano/ acoustic guitars are all we get.

And “The Bandit Queen (With Dialogue and Tap Dancing)” pretty much gets my vote for best song. I meant, dude! It’s got a pleasant turn of the century piano melody, and it’s got some tap dancing in the middle and some dialogue at the start. In other words, pure Decemberists nonsense, and I love it. I think there was also a video somewhere...I seem to recall enjoying that.

The Joanna Newsom cover of “Bridges and Balloons” is nice enough, but kind of passes me by. I mean, based on what I’ve heard, Colin’s weird voice is a lot easier to stomach than Joanna’s weird voice, believe it or not, but not even the Decemberists can breathe “interesting” into the vocal melody. The original “Constantinople” is honestly not much more interesting, but the melody is much prettier, and certainly better constructed.

“The Kingdom of Spain” is another original, so that means its better constructed. Nothing too pretty to look at mind you, but it’s a pleasant enough tune, definitely reaching back towards that Pink Floyd style folk slide guitar the band cultivated so much back in the early days. The EP rounds out with another version of “The Bandit Queen,” this one the “Prescott Version,” whoever Prescott is. Don’t look at me. All I know is that it’s still a fun song, but not quite as fun; the piano has been swapped for guitar, and the tap dancing is absent. Pity.

But there’s nothing particularly wrong with this little gift pack. I mean, it’s hardly the most essential thing on earth, but if you’re even a passing Decemberist fan with some money that you NEED to get rid, and this happens to be cheap and staring you in the face, you probably will get your kicks out of it. Certainly “The Bandit Queen,” the longer one, is a dirty gem of a Decemberists song, and fans of the band’s earlier, folkier material will find something in the acoustic recording here that has been missing for a while.

The Whistler | 3/5 |


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