The Decemberists celebrated the release of their new album, “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World,” with a performance in Portland January 20, the day it came out. The city declared it “Decemberists Day,” and the mayor presented the band with a custom quilt made of squares representing local artists and businesses. This pageantry is possibly nauseating to some, but wonderful to me, because I love Portland, and I love the Decemberists.
I was so excited to hear that the Decemberists were coming out with their first album since 2011’s “The King is Dead,” one of my favorites of that year. I saw them in 2009 after the release of “The Hazards of Love” but now I want to see them tour again behind this new collection.
The album starts with “The Singer Addresses His Audience,” a slow, but lovely and eventually sprawling, start to the total 14 tracks. It picks up significantly with “Cavalry Captain,” an upbeat song that continues to showcase Colin Meloy’s excellent storytelling. It’s followed by “Philomena,” which is not my favorite, but the fourth track, “Make You Better,” more than makes up for whatever feelings I may have about the third.
“Lake Song” is beautiful and would fit in easily with earlier albums. “The Wrong Year” is pretty catchy and has been partly stuck in my head all week. The “Mistral” might be my favorite of the whole thing, beautiful and sweeping.
In general, some of the songs on this are kind of long, but they also seem to bleed into each other. I think it’s a pretty little album and listening to it makes me wish it was summer.
My favorites include “Make You Better,” “Cavalry Captain,” “Mistral,” and “Anti-Summersong.”
I was not super impressed by “Philomena,” “Til The Water’s All Long Gone,” “Better Not Wake The Baby,” and “Easy Come and Easy Go,” but I wouldn’t skip them, by any means.