Top critical review
Preferring the music's energy to the stories' eclecticism
on May 22, 2007
"The Crane Wife" by The Decemberists portrays many varied tales, mostly sad or violent exploits, that Colin Meloy has woven from literature, popular culture, and no doubt, the recesses of a fertile imagination. If the lyrics sometimes seem forced, it's a trade-off worth making for the sake of presenting songs outside of the normal boring forays into love and love lost.
But the darkness of the soul that permeates The Island-Come & See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel The Drowning and the title track do not entice me to seek them out when I've got an hour to focus on just listening to music.
The better songs of this batch, including Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then), O Valencia!, and The Perfect Crime #2, allow the band to showcase their skills, revealing just how good The Decemberists can sound when not weighed down by pretension and artifice. Invariably, I am an impatient listener and prefer the music's energy to the stories' eclecticism.
As my starting point for the Decemberists' recordings, I think this one solidly merits three stars, probably even another half star, but I cannot canonize "The Crane Wife."