Album Review: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World–The Decemberists

Review by Sean Lynch

RIYL: The Shins, Iron & Wine, The New Pornagraphers

Recommended Tracks: “Make You Better”, “The Wrong Year”, and “Philomena”

Historical sea battles reenacted onstage and a tongue-in-cheek song about fellatio. Concepts like these are often are unheard of when it comes to musicians, but The Decemberists have been that quirky band to provide these quirks and continue to show how unique they are through their album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. For a 52-minute album, The Decemberists have enough time to provide you with fun anecdotes quite contrary from their originally long stories they used to provide.

“Make You Better” is a very easygoing song off of the album. The vocals from Colin Meloy are light and enjoyable as the song progresses on. The gentle strumming of the guitar complements the vocals and works with the guitar to create a softness within the song.

“The Wrong Year” is a very unconventional folk song. The use of the accordion is uncharacteristic of a folk song, but it works so well in bringing the song all together. Jenny Conlee provides the backing vocals to the song, and adds some depth to Meloy’s soft voice.The drum makes a patter with a slight kick at the end to round off the arrangement, making it one of the more memorable songs off the album. Some other songs that work very well include “Philomena”, “Cavalry Captain” and “Mistral”.

There was something different about the first couple of Decemberists albums compared to What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is. The band used to carry a very jovial vibe. The band has grown up from their past, but this change still delivers a unique vibe that the band has carried with them from the beginning. The somber tone is nothing to be sad about because The Decemberists have created a great album and just the thought of that should make you happy.


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