The Decemberists: I’ll Be Your Girl review – The hazards of exploring new realms

Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 05:00

   
 

Album:
I’ll Be Your Girl

Artist:
The Decemberists

Label:
Rough Trade

Genre:
Alternative

Most of The Decemberists’ songs kind of sound like they were written in 15th-century Sherwood Forest. On Cutting Stone, from the Portland band’s eighth album I’ll Be Your Girl, you can picture singer Colin Meloy perched under a tree, strumming a guitar in Lincoln green threads as he unleashes his ye olde vocal style to recount tales of wandering travels and mythical charms.

That’s long been The Decemberists’ remit – quaint numbers that are charmingly old-fangled. Enter producer John Congleton (St Vincent, Lana del Rey), recruited to help the band explore new realms.

There are some highlights: Severed is a textured, synth-swathed pop number that propels itself forward with purpose, while the band’s early-1970s Southern rock pastiche Sucker’s Prayer is a glorious highlight.

The Decemberists: Severed

Less impressive is Once In My Life, which sees the group target stadium sweep but strangely decide to repeat the title lyric ad nauseam. The same problem crops up on Everything Is Awful.

Elsewhere, Your Ghost goes for raucous Americana stomp but is too clunky and awkward to get any boots hitting the floor. Despite the experimentation, this is distinctly Decemberists enough to shore up the band’s base.

For newcomers, I still recommended starting with 2005’s The Crane Wife, the band’s finest record. decemberists.com