What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World (LP)


The Decemberists

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Amoeba Review

12/26/2014

Decemberists albums are known for their high concepts, whether they’re centered around Japanese folk takes (The Crane Wife), rock operas (The Hazards of Love) or exploring Americana as an influence (The King Is Dead). But after some time without a new album, The Decemberists sound ready to merely be themselves, and stripped of such a guiding principle, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World allows Colin Meloy’s songcraft to shine at its fullest. “Cavalry Captain” is simply first-class indie-pop, claiming that throne from the newly synthy Belle & Sebastian. “Philomena” is a lovely, ’50s-inspired ballad that is perfectly orchestrated, with beautiful female backup vocals sending the song sailing. “Make You Better” is an emotionally naked power-ballad that makes for a bold first single, placing Meloy’s poetic and romantic lyrics front and center. It’s a reoccurring theme here; Meloy seems to sing more from his personal experience here, on songs like the nostalgic “Lake Song” (“17 and terminally fey” is a relatable, Morrissey-esque line), rather than the fantastical. You miss a bit of their whimsy, and the album runs long. But What a Terrible World succeeds by facing adulthood headlong, replacing their early penchant for what could be with a more realistic (and often more affecting) exploration of what is, with some touches on their past work, like the mythical “Till the Water’s All Long Gone” and more rustic second half, on songs like “Carolina Low” and “Better Not Wake the Baby.” Whereas we were inclined to follow Meloy and co. into whale’s mouths on previous records, he has a way of making even tougher concepts—adulthood and parenthood—approachable on the thoroughly pleasing What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.



Track Listing



Side A Titles
Artist
Length
1.
The Singer Addresses His Audience
The Decemberists 04:42
2.
Calvalry Captain
The Decemberists 03:17
3.
Philomena
The Decemberists 03:04
4.
Make You Better
The Decemberists 05:07


Side B Titles
Artist
Length
1.
Lake Song
The Decemberists 05:52
2.
Till the Water's All Long Gone
The Decemberists 05:01
3.
The Wrong Year
The Decemberists 03:53
4.
Carolina Low
The Decemberists 03:24
5.
Better Not Wake the Baby
The Decemberists 01:44


Side C Titles
Artist
Length
1.
Anti-Summersong
The Decemberists 02:12
2.
Easy Come, Easy Go
The Decemberists 02:22
3.
Mistral
The Decemberists 03:54
4.
12/17/12
The Decemberists 03:03
5.
A Beginning Song
The Decemberists 05:22

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