February 17, 2005

Test Spin: The Decemberists

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The Decemberists’ latest disc is a magnificent undertaking in the vein of the album’s namesake, Picaresque, a form of satiric fiction detailing the adventures of roguish heroes. The album is over-the-top with its splendorous string and brass orchestrations to accompany lead singer Colin Meloy’s fitting thematic lyrical novellas.

Among the album credits, special thanks are paid to a set designer, as each song appears to have been acted out by members of the band in the pages of the CD booklet. What could have become frivolous and trite, the Decemberists make work with their indelible charm and quirkiness. For the most part, the album consists of songs like “Eli the Barrel Boy,” whimsical musings about life in a far away time and place. However, “The Engine Driver” and a few other songs recall masterpieces like “Shiny” from previous albums where Meloy penned compelling lyrics with substance. Picaresque is still a pleasant listen, in recognizable Decemberists fashion.

Archived article by Sophia Asare
Sun Staff Writer