At the release of this article, it has been nearly 4 years since The Decemberists released a new studio album. This is not uncommon for the group, who have taken multiple-year breaks before. The longest break prior to this was taken in between the albums The Crane Wife and Hazards of Love, the latter being the groups paramount release (at least from my perspective). One can only hope that time away is just what the group needs as they prepare to release What a Beautiful World, What a Terrible World.
“Lake Song” is the second single released for this project and like its predecessor, seems to suggest that this album will be more akin to The King is Dead in sound; warm, sweet Americana musings grace our earbuds once more. Fans wishing for content that harkens back to their creepy sea-faring minstrel tunes (a camp I am admittedly a part of) might be disappointed at first. I would urge critics to give it multiple listens. The melodies and characteristically superb songwriting are bound to win you over.
Lead singer and guitarist Colin Meloy is aging beautifully as a songwriter. His talent for prose can be seen in any of The Decemberists work. He has a knack for world building; Immersion in the world of the song is important and it shows in the lyrics. Imagery and articulation of feeling are really what set him apart, as can be seen in this excerpt.
“Down by the lake/ We were overturning pebbles and unpending all the animals alight./ And I took a drag/ of your cigarette and pinched it ‘tween my finger and by thumbs till it had died.”
His words move the music and vise versa. Each is beneficial to the other. This might sound obvious. Of course music makes lyrics better. While this is true on paper, it takes a truly skilled writer, as Meloy is, to marry the two so seamlessly. What a Beautiful World, What a Terrible World is slated for release on January 20th of next year. Set your calendars, readers. This is something you won’t want to miss.
Check out the debut performance of the single, “Make You Better.”
Check out the music video for “Lake Song.”