by marissa bea

If anyone can tell a story, then they must have learned how to do it from The Decemberists. Frontman Colin Meloy can somehow take a simple idea and turn it into mind numbing genius, the results of which always trigger deeply confusing emotions, and those warm-weather goosebumps. This is their first album in three years, and by far the most ambitious to date. The story revolves around Margaret who is ravished by a shape-shifting animal and then captured by a vicious knave; her lover William and the evil forest queen who raised William from infancy.

Artist: The Decemberists
Song: Abduction of Margaret

While the album is meant to be heard from beginning to end, there are specific points of pure aural bliss along the way, from the bewitchingly disturbing “Rake’s Song” where he speaks of hating his children and murdering them one by one, to “The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)”, in which an angelic choir of children, sing like a circus sideshow from beyond the grave. The sweet use of accordions in “Isn’t it a Lovely Night” directly juxtaposes the terrifying surge of metal in “The Queen’s Rebuke/The Crossing,” and shows the amount of thought put into the psyche of each character. As the voyeur, you are transported alongside them, through this tragic fairy tale, and it’s very easy to become enchanted by the magic.

One becomes consumed with these unfortunate souls who inhabit this melancholic universe. Even upon coming to the end of the album, there are still pieces left to seek out with your own imagination. The Decemberists have created the ultimate album of fantasy and legend, engaging the listener to a point of serene euphoria. The lives of these fictional characters are horrific; you loathe the evil ones, pity the maligned ones, yet can’t help but love and listen to their heartbreaking stories, over and over and over again. This is a monumental triumph and a very important album within the evolution of music. Fans will have a love affair with this treasure. It shows their incomparable prowess as one of the greatest groups of musicians, storytellers and inspired minds of our generation. Inspired by folk tales from the past, and now re-invented to become part of our immediate present, The Decemberists have given a harmonious gift to the masses.

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