Portland – the city where the dream of the 90s is still alive, is also the city where great alternative rock music still lives on as well. Having consistently released material over the years since their formation, The Decemberists latest album What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World is a lively and upbeat grouping of songs made up from a wide rage of creative instrumentation. The band has always used whatever tools are needed to help their folk-rooted rock songs come to life.
After a climbing start with “The Singer Addresses His Audiences,” the band takes you through a wide spectrum of songs from the cute, tongue in cheek “Philomena” to Colin Meloy’s channeling of Nick Drake in “Lake Song.” to the haunting southern hymn-like “Carolina Low” and the ballad “Till The Water’s All Gone.” It should be noted how mature and seasoned the band’s songwriting and production quality has gotten in their fifteen years together. With each new album I’m constantly reminded how well Jenny Conlee’s voice compliments Colin Meloy’s on songs like “Make You Better” and “12/17/12.”
Having a wide range of songwriting styles gives the album so many chapters. How does one band go from the Nashville-friendly “Better Not Wake The Baby” to the old west cowboy themed “Easy Come, Easy Go” to closing out the album with the climaxing and orchestral “A Beginning Song?” It’s really a complex layering of many facets and colors that makes for a brilliant display of musical virtuosity from that one-of-a-kind band from Portland.
Whiskey Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Shots
Review by: Tommy Shackleford