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The Crane Wife
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The album begins slowly, with the haunting acoustic ballad turned full-speed solemn sing-along, "The Crane Wife, Pt. 3." The song is classic Decemberists, but accessible enough that you'll undoubtedly find yourself singing "I will hang my head, hang my head low" with Colin, even if it's only your first time listening to the song. It's a great lead-off track, and really builds the momentum that lasts through most of the album. That momentum runs head-on into "The Island," a three-part 12 1/2 minute epic that instantly captivating and enjoyable.
"Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" is one of my favorite tracks on the album, as it features a beautiful duet between Colin and Laura Veirs. Of course, when I say beautiful, I'm not speaking of an R&B/Whitney Houston type of duet. Despite what many will undoubtedly say of them, The Decemberists have not "sold out" on this album. They've simply refined their sound, and made it more pleasant, with the help of Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla, who serves as producer on this album. But I digress...
Moving along, the next two tracks on the album have a great chance of launching The Decemberists into levels of fame that they have not yet experienced. The first of these, "O Valencia!" is an upbeat, love song that features a nice Meloyian twist. Colin laments "O Valencia with your blood still warm on the ground, Valencia! And I swear to the stars I'll burn this whole city down!Read more ›
But a major label jump doesn't matter if the end product isn't good. And the Decemberists' fourth full-length album not only preserves their melodious sea-chanty sound, but it is also probably the best work this band has ever done, topping their previous album "Picaresque." From start to finish, this music is warm and enchantingly imaginative.
"And under the boughs unbound/All clothed in a snowy shroud/She had no heart so hardened/All under the boughs unbound," Colin Meloy murmurs in the opening song. The wintry lyrics make a stark contrast to the strummy little tune, fleshed out with intermittent piano. It's catchy and melodious, but much in the way that their previous songs were.
It's a good song, and a solid introduction to a string of similarly good songs, like the folky "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)," rollicking acoustic marches, and dreamy nautical-summer ballads. The Decemberists also dabble a bit in rock in the middle of the album, like the fast-moving riffs of "Perfect Crime #2," before switching back to familiar territory.
The Decemberists started off being good, but rapidly ascended to indie-rock greatness as they grew into their sound and made it more robust. "The Crane Wife" is just the natural progression of that, and it's hard to see how anyone could not like these jolly, catchy songs, with the charming lyrics and poignant imagery. Well, maybe if you don't like the sea.
They take some musical risks as well, with two songs clocking in at over ten minutes apiece.Read more ›
For the most part, the album sees relatively straightforward, foot-tapping pop tunes splitting time with more spacious, epic balladry, all of it highlighted by Colin Meloy's emotive brogue and intricate arrangements underlain by the rock-solid drumming of John Moen. The highly poetic lyrics, which often seem taken from an anthology of 19th-century Irish literature, deal heavily with themes of love, loss, and misfortune, but with none of the triteness or sap that so frequently accompany such subjects.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I think I have become a fan of this group! Wish CDs were packaged in a more eco-friendly way.Published 2 months ago by PB
If you like the Decemberists, you like the Decemberists. This is a good album and I particularly like "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" and "Sons &... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Axeman
You can literally feel the vibration of the guitar strings throughout this album. This is a must have for any fan of the Decemberists.Published 9 months ago by James Watson