Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday night



The Decemberists, Down by the Water:
After five increasingly ambitious and intricate albums, concluding with 2009's prog-folk-rock opera The Hazards of Love, the Decemberists have gone back to their beginnings for The King Is Dead, with leader Colin Meloy forsaking epic storytelling for taut, disciplined, melodic guitar pop. The influence of REM is apparent throughout in arpeggiated guitar figures written in the style of Peter Buck, and often played by him – Calamity Song and Down By the Water, in particular, sound like the Georgia band at their top-notch best. It's no retreat, though: the confident swing of opener Don't Carry It All sets the tone for the album, and song for song, this is certainly Meloy's best set since the Decemberists' breakthrough album, Picaresque. Though the craftsmanship is evident – in the delicacy of the pair of seasonal ballads June Hymn and January Hymn, in the hillbilly-ballad-cum-indierocker Rox in the Box – it sounds as though Meloy has allowed instinct to supplement his intellect. A relatively understated delight from a band few might have suspected capable of understatement.
Two weeks in a row, avoiding the techno! It will return, that is unavoidable. In the meantime, I blame the Guardian.

Have a good night!