‘What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World’ could for sure be more concise, but it won’t let down any fans of The Decemberists and most likely it will take some more aboard.
1. The Singer Addresses His Audience 2. Cavalry Captain 3. Philomena 4. Make You Better 5. Lake Song 6. Till the Water Is All Long Gone 7. The Wrong Year 8. Carolina Low 9. Better Not Wake The Baby 10. Anti-Summersong 11. Easy Come, Easy Go 12. Mistral 13. 12-17-12 14. A Beginning Song Release Date: 16 January 2015 Label: Rough Trade / Capitol Records Tracks To Notice: Cavalry Captain, Philomena, Make You Better
About ten years ago folk music had just started to reemerge, helped by bands and artists that have formed some kind of a small movement. One of the most important bands of this scene, that were already releasing albums a decade before Mumford & Sons headline Glastonbury, is The Decemberists. Exactly four years since their last release they return with their seventh studio album.
During this small hiatus they focused on several other things, apart from appearing in The Simpsons and releasing a live album, back in 2012. Band lead vocalist and main lyricist, Colin Meloy, offered us one more album of his series ‘Colin Meloy Sings…‘ this time covering The Kinks, while most of the other members participate in the side project named Black Prairie that released four albums the past three years.
One could be expecting them to reform their sound or try to aim for a much wider audience, but ‘What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World‘ with its beautifully colourful cover isn’t something like that. They sound less eager about that as one would think, even if a few songs, like first single ‘Make You Better‘, have that tendency. Targets aside, it’s one of their best albums to date.
Listening over it several times, it still sounds more like a collection of fourteen nice songs rather than an album as a whole. That’s not for the worse, so long as there are interesting and catchy songs, just like ‘Cavalry Captain‘ or ‘Philomena‘. A bit of folkish happiness here, a bit of piano there with lyrics as “all I wanted in the world was to see a naked girl” and satisfaction is already herethree songs in, just before the lead single. Opener ‘The Singer Addresses His Audience‘ is half tongue-in-cheek half self-sarcasm with Meloy singing “we are aware that you cut your hair in the style that your drummer wore in the video”.
Album title comes from the ’12-17-12′, inspired by Obama‘s speech after Newport school shooting according to Colin Meloy. ‘The Wrong Year’ is another nice song of their usual style that stands out, while the guitar licks and the vocals on ‘Easy Come, Easy Go‘ have a small taste of this modern psychedelia. Further than that, the second half varies more in style, with country-like tunes as ‘Better Not Wake The Baby‘ or with the likes of ‘Till The Water Is All Long Gone‘ and ‘Carolina Low‘ dipped in blues melancholy. ‘Anti-Summersong‘ and its harmonica is also worth mentioning since it’s one of the best songs while coming closer to the end.
‘What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World‘ could for sure be more concise, but it won’t let down any fans of The Decemberists and most likely it will take some more aboard. As for this “wider audience” and the arenas to be filled, songs and bands like that sound better under the setting sun than the lights of the stage, in any farm out there.