Saturday, February 03, 2007

the decemberists

The Decemberists sing dark beautiful songs in their latest album, "The Crane Wife". The lyrics are darker than beautiful. The music is beautifuller than dark.

I made the mistake of reading the lyrics in the jacket on my first listen. It's hard to stomach music set in a Revolutionary-War-like setting, hearing about rural-town butchers wiping the blood off their hatchets after murdering, the rape of a farmer's wife by a soldier, and other sickening things. I wasn't expecting it. I kept a distaste and held an aversoin for the album for a couple weeks afterwards.

I finally came back to it and tried to listen more for the music than the lyrics the second time around. What has evolved from that effort is a deep appreciation for what the Decemberists make happen in "The Crane Wife" to the point of craving it. Every song distinctly carves out beautiful melodies that stick with you. Some songs go through two or three transformations in their course, redefining themselves mid stride without losing a moment of cohesion.

Because of my first impression I was also surprised to find several songs celebrating falling in love and the private home-life of husband and wife... hence "Crane Wife". Unfortunately the domestic beauty is shattered by the above mentioned sorts of war-torn events. It all adds up enough to cast emotional implications on America's current persistance to be war-involved. But any present day political implications they intend are understated enough as to not disturb the dramatic play-out of the musical world they create about an unspecified place of distant history.

Music these days is more and more difficult to classify. But this band has been part of the Indie underground and with this album has emerged into the mainstream. NPR chose it as the best album of 2006. It's becoming one of my favorites as well.

The thematic unity of the album is very tastefully done. More and more albums seem to be pursuing this sort of album lyric cohesion, telling a story with the whole of the songs, or some other tying factor. In this case I really like it. Think also, Come on Feel the Illinoise.

I'm listening to a grip of other new or atleast newer music. So, more of this to follow.


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