REVIEW: The Decemberists – ‘What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World’

the decemberists

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Capitol Records

Now in their fifteenth year as a band, The Decemberists have released their seventh studio album in What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World.

Fans of their previous release should feel right at home with the new record, especially because many of its stylistic elements pick up right where The King Is Dead left off. This is especially true with regards to tracks like “Mistral” or “12-17-12,” which is even dated appropriately.

Over the years we’ve seen The Decemberists flex their group dynamic into a series of different forms. Everything from concept album, to rock opera, to smooth bluegrass has been touched on in recent history. That means the new record should consist of their classic charm, packaged into a new flavor to amuse fans, correct? Unfortunately this is not the case, as What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World is instead a very safe album.

Thankfully the band still knows how to write a great song, and has packed several into the latest release, as well as some of their standards like the foot-stomping march (“Cavalry Captain,” “Wrong Year”), the soft ballad (“Till the Water Is All Long Gone”), and the witty number about adolescent love (“Philomena”). Don’t forget the aforementioned bluegrass songs that have become a new staple of the band. In fact, there’s actually quite a few songs with that same flavor to them this time around.

With an impressive catalogue of flavors and styles, What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World is not bound to be most people’s favorite Decemberists record, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. It’s fresh, but not new. Regardless, the record is worth a healthy amount of listens for fans new and old. Its sweet sounds pair well with a sunny afternoon at your desk and a hot cup of coffee, and that’s just fine.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by Scott Murray

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