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The Decemberists - Always The Bridesmaid: Vol 1 CD (album) cover


The Decemberists


Prog Folk

2.73 | 6 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
2 stars (O! 2.5)

So around 1898, or whenever, the Decemberists were halfway through collecting revenue checks from Crane Wife and creating the cover art for Hazards of Love, and Colin realized that someone had better put SOMETHING out to remind people who the band was between albums. The result? This...experiment, the Always the Bridesmaid singles collection; a very odd kettle of fish to be sure, and not that’s not always a good thing.

As usual, I seem to disagree with the general sentiments regarding my favorite band. Most folks consider the first single (subtitled Valerie Plame) to be the best. Why? Sure, the first side contains “Valerie Plame,” and it’s a cute song. But is it good? It’s not better than “Sixteen Military Wives,” a song with which it has a lot in common both plot-wise (slightly political) and structurally (anthemic pop song with a pocket orchestra, right down to some “Hey Jude”-esque chanting). But as much fun as it is, I don’t get that Decemberists feel from it.

The same can be said for the folksier, east coast insulting B-side “O New England.” Is it pleasant? SURE...and while it is nice to hear Colin ragging on some place that is not my home town for a change (I love the lyrics “O New England, in the face of your empire, I think I’d rather just wait in the car”), is there really anything Decemberists about this song? In a word, not really. If “Plame” was a Decemberists song first and an indie pop song second, “New England” is an indie pop song first and a Decemberists song second.

No, sorry sirs. Despite the generous use of banjos and watery backup vocals that live upon this single’s surface, this is NOT my Decemberists. Enjoyable indie pop? Sure. Artsy, folksy edge? You bet. Could The Shins or Death Cab for Cutie put out the same single? Of course. You can enjoy it. I rarely do.

The Whistler | 2/5 |


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