The Decemberists, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World”
What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
The Decemberists’ seventh album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World sees the Portland folkies beginning to rebuild after hitting reset on their prog-rock dalliances with 2011’s decidedly rootsy The King Is Dead. The reconstituted aesthetics continue to be worked and changed within the group. Whereas career nadir The Hazards of Love showed the group’s leviathan-length tracks really starting to creak under their own girth, the longest songs on this release (“Lake Song,” “A Beginning Song”) tend to be the most handsome. Most of these tracks spend little time fussing about, and even when the album begins to get long in the tooth and tedious, Colin Meloy and crew pull up anchor and set sail. “Anti-Summersong” and “Easy Come, Easy Go” are trifling Americana experiments, but the triumphant brass on “Cavalry Captain” and the R.E.M. lead guitar of “The Wrong Year” prove Meloy still has some writing chops intact after more than a decade of storytelling.