I think many Decemberists fans were wondering that when it was announced that the charming folksy Oregon band were signing with a major label for the release of their new cd, The Crane Wife.
The strength of the Decemberists has always been found in Colin Meloy's ability to translate historical references into compelling stories, stories filled with rogues and rascals, pirates and prostitutes, mariners and marauders.
And while the Crane Wife, the Decemberists' major label debut, is a departure from their traditionally guitar-based songs, the sly subversion of this crafty gathering of book nerds is not missing from this latest offering. The first track on the cd is entitled the Crane Wife, Part 3, while the Crane Wife, Pts 1 & 2 is actually a single entity (albeit 11 minutes long) and it features much later on the cd. Oh those sneaky Decemberists! To add to the subversion of the natural order of things, the Perfect Crime #2 is in fact the only crime on the cd, in that there is no Perfect Crime #1. (Actually I'm also referring to the fact the this particular track is probably the least successful on the cd, but more on that later.)
The Crane Wife moves into new musical areas for the Decemberists, bringing in a more exerimental sound in many of the tracks. The lush grandiose opuses are still there in all their glory, with not one, but two of the songs clocking in at over 11 minutes. The Island: Come and See - The Landlord's Daughter - You'll Not Feel the Drowning is a song cycle of sorts, three distinct songs melded into one piece.
As Rewriteable Content so aptly stated in their review of this cd, the Crane Wife has the potential to alienate a lot of die-hard Decemberists' fans, those who only want to hear the Mariner's Revenge Song again. This cd delves into more exploratory music and while that may seem like sacrilege to those who only want to hear another sea shanty, I say let's embrace a band's desire to explore and to push their musical boundaries.
Hell, even Belle and Sebastian dipped into electronica with Electronic Renaissance.
That said, I have to say that the Perfect Crime #2 does not really work for me. Something about Colin Meloy's voice does not lend itself very kindly to reverb and the overlong denouement of "it was the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect crime" seems forced, to say the least.
The Crane Wife will be spending a lot of time on my playlist.
Have a listen to: The Crane Wife, Pt 3, Sons and Daughters
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