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Jan 26, 2015







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The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (Capitol Records)
Cd Reviews: January 22, 2015

01/22/15



The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (Capitol Records)

The seventh full-length from Colin Meloy and his baroque-pop crew of quirk-a-maniacs aims for a different sort of theatrical-radio ambiance than you’ve heard from them before, most likely born from a long, long bender spent vegging on old 1970s radio-pop. Not the sort-of hits — I mean the big, long-lasting ones: “Cavalry Captain” reads like a companion piece to Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw the Light,” not going by just the beat but the carefree steaming-asphalt undertone itself, which, to my knowledge, hasn’t been copied much by this generation of songwriters. That isn’t the only Don Kirshner-prostrating thing here, of course; album opener “The Singer Addresses His Audience” is the band’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” ending the tune with an adamant but floaty choir, immediately followed by “Philomena,” which has to be described as Toto meets the Byrds. There’s nothing terribly wrong with all this harmless, wanton commercialization; it’s all expertly rendered, not that the band’s fans, who turn their live shows into a G-rated Rocky Horror Picture Show, would desert them regardless. There’s no hidden agenda, at least one can say that for sure. A Eric W. Saeger





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