The Decemberists
The Crane Wife


4.0
excellent

Review

by The Katz brothers USER (183 Reviews)
October 17th, 2006 | 139 replies | 23,069 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Through feathery descriptives, eccentric costumes and styles and a particular fascination with the Baroque era, The Decemberists came up from nothing to become of the most interesting and lofty indie pop bands of the new century. With each album they blurred the line between vintage and post modern, blending Renaissance and pop like no others. On their 2006 release, the slightly nerdy quintet signed to a major label (Capitol) and attempted to take the world by storm with blunt, but oddly satisfying album art on their sleeve and a more mainstreaminized sound on their backs. And oh what a journey it was. Through mountains, depression, war and funk rock The Decemberists keep a tight head, playing with passion and enough restraint to keep from going on pop rock on us.

When describing The Crane Wife (the Decemberist’s new album) it’s often important to not just end up babbling about Colin Meloy’s fantastic lyricism and cozy, comfortable and confident vocals. Then again it is almost completely necessary to go on and on about Colin. He’s so great, you see, that it almost drives a person to begin spewing words out of his (or her) fingertips, lips and brain. He turns epics into children’s poetry (this is a good thing mind you) giving characters faces, names and personalities to boot. He describes things so precisely that it is extremely hard to see how his whirling tales of war time Europe, gentle giants and the people that made19th century urban America so wonderful/horrible actually go anywhere at all. When the War Came is a beautiful example of Meloy’s vocal power, his timid approach, clever words and his fantastic finish. The song pairs his vocals with his a driving, devastatingly heavy guitar riff and organist/singer, Jenny Conlee’s breathtaking backing vocals melodies.
Quote:
We made our huts of avaram
We'd not betray the sole Ledum
The acres of hysterisy
To our own pangs of starvation
When the war came
When the war came
Sing Meloy and Conlee in their touching, but otherwise distant moans. I don’t know if songs get any better than this.

The LP, like many story books, takes many twists and turns. Much of the record is the already expected, but generally appreciated indie folk sound that rears its wondrous mane so many times on 2005 release, Picaresque. But The Decemberists chart unknown waters with a funk pop ditty under the name of The Perfect Crime 2 (number 1 does not appear on this album). The song features a haggard, but other wise impressive drum beat by new comer John Moen and a rousing, heavily chorused guitar solo from the band’s guitarist, the appropriately named Chris Funk, over a catchy, but disappointing rest-of-the-song. The other parts of the album echo a distinct connection to Captiol’s resident indie pop gods Death Cab for Cutie, when in fact, surprise surprise, the record was produced by the OC catapulted rockers’ one and only Chris Walla.

Unfortunately the album gets sort of samey from the end of bashful ballad, The Shankhill Butchers through about start of the Crane Wife 2 (The Crane Wife 1 being a watered down filler track and the Crane Wife 3 being an amazing upbeat indie tune put, confusingly enough, at the beginning of the record). The Crane Wife 2 is another ballad, full of jangly acoustics, cosmopolitan country swirls and bombastic Neil Peart esque fills. The result (when paired with Colin’s love-sick coo) is absolutely astounding. Huge fans of the band may see this as a departure from their usual sound, and even the casual listener should agree, but The Decemberists are still here, wide awake and waiting. Through the sugar coating and rounded edges only the good will see how everyone’s favorite fantasy folksters are still at a career peak (whether it be the end or middle of this, no one knows). The CD had some bum tracks, but they are clearly over-shadowed by the good (some of which I would call the best of the year). It’s a hard record to rate, but it’s surely a fantastic release for most.

-Joe.



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Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Redbedbreakdown (5)
Absolutely beautiful....

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Accessibility and flawless narrative go on a blind date....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
October 17th 2006



2806 Comments


I was gonna do this . I might still do it some other time.

Zesty Mordant
October 17th 2006



1196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was also gonna do this, but excellent work nonetheless.
I told myself that I was done with Indie, but this album definately makes the exception. One of the best cds I've heard this year.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 17th 2006



4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album is one of the best of 2006 for me, easily as well. I can't stop listening to it. brilliant stuff.

mx
Moderator
October 17th 2006



733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I actually completely disagree with you about the best songs on here, but I guess it's a matter of taste. "Sons and Daughters" and "Yankee Bayonet" are my favorites

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2006



16083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Damn, this album is brilliant. Decidedly better than Picaresque was as a whole.

here comes the bird flu
October 22nd 2006



22 Comments


oh man I was going to do this cd for my first review =(

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2006



16083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Go right ahead. The Katz's have no clue what they're talking about in this review.This Message Edited On 10.22.06

onefortheman25
October 23rd 2006



196 Comments


Listened to it for days straight when I first got it. Crane Wife 1 and 2, Shankill Butchers, and The Perfect Crime 2 are my favorites.

onefortheman25
October 23rd 2006



196 Comments


there also from portland, so thats pretty cool.

I got to see them at a private concert with about twenty other people, it was all acoustic and the solos were played one on a violin, I also got to meet everyone in the band.

Sepstrup
October 23rd 2006



1563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I hate you. I haven't gotten my copy of this yet.

onefortheman25
October 23rd 2006



196 Comments


I would have invited you if you just gave a call.
too bad...

The Jungler
October 23rd 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=Ilu]Go right ahead. The Katz's have no clue what they're talking about in this review.[/quote]To each his own.
But nah, Picaresque is better than this. Thanks for the quotes and comments. [quote=Tomlinson]oh man I was going to do this cd for my first review =([/quote]Go right ahead, I need to read another review of this to see why my opinion is so unpopular. Plus your awesome on the forums and stuff.




pulseczar
October 23rd 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been listening to Castaways and Cutouts, and Picaresque a lot lately, the time is ripe for me to check out the Crane Wife now. I have a feeling that it's better than Picaresque.

midnite_matinee
October 23rd 2006



18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No way!! i was a the exact showing you said you were at!

It was awome! they played O Valencia (of Chorus) along with summer song and Perfect crime #2
It was at the Mississippi loungeThis Message Edited On 10.23.06

midnite_matinee
October 23rd 2006



18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They also played a song not any albums called the Christmas Song
I felt very privleged, considering i got to go because my friend won tickets of a radio station.


Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2006



16083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

[quote=Teh Jungler]I need to read another review of this to see why my opinion is so unpopular[/quote]
It's because you underestimate its greatness.

The Jungler
October 24th 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

/listening to it again.
I may raise my rating back to a four, this last listen is going to help me decide.

Zebra
Moderator
October 24th 2006



2647 Comments


Castaways & Cutouts is the only Decemberists album that I can enjoy all the way through. I might look into this because of all the hype but I don't seem to like the Decemberists as much as other alt/indie fans.

pinelake26
October 25th 2006



123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i used to be into this music a few years ago, i broke away from it awhile back but this cd is prety good im happy with it

The Jungler
October 25th 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I raised it back to a four, this is such a fantastic CD. The Island... would probably be my favorite track if it wasn't so long. For now its probably When the War Came or Yankee Bayonet.



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