On October 3rd The Decemberists unveiled a masterpiece called The Crane Wife. The album once again features Colin Meloy’s elegant wordsmithing as it musically drives home the concept that this band is here for real. The experience begins with a sound Decemberists fans will recognize and slowly builds to a raging 3 song creshendo that is one part Disco/Funk, one part Prog-Rock and one part the gorgeous orchestral Indie Rock that The Decemberists have become known for.
The powerful, nearly epic, songs highlight the fact that Meloy’s writing is clearly at the top of it’s game. His pen has truly become a brush as he seems to have painted the word pictures that bring this album alive. Images such as “I tasted summer on your peppery skin,” and “A gray sky, a bitter sting, a rain cloud, a crane on a wing,” are not uncommon in these dark tales that are shrouded in Victorian lace.
Technically speaking the production value on the record is excellent and the songlist was put together flawlessly. The album lifts you up in strong arms and lets you down gently right where it wants you. From the bright and tinny opening notes of “The Crane Wife 3″ through the final chorus of “Sons and Daughters” that features the full company singing “Hear all the bombs, they fade away,” The Decemberists take you for an emotionally wrenching ride through an imaginary world inhabited by soldiers and sailors, bank robbers and fairy tale butchers. It is not a place for the faint of heart.
I have already read some reviews of this album where die hard fans have expressed their displeasure and their anger that the band has “sold-out.” I don’t think this could be further from the truth. The majesty and passion that are conveyed in the presentation of this collection of songs simply could not be made by a band attemping to placate a record executive. This is a record that refects the maturity of the band both lyrically and musically. In every generation a few bands get popular simply because they are extremely talented and hitting their creative stride as a unit, and not as individuals. The nature of creativity almost dictates that this can’t last and that it must be cherished when it happens. I think The Decemberists are at that pinnacle right now. We would be fools not to stand up and take notice while they are in our midst. This is music that will endure and who knows how long they can keep it up.