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The Decemberists - Florasongs CD (album) cover


The Decemberists


Prog Folk

2.05 | 3 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars You might have thought his long sabbatical after recording "The King is Dead" would have given Colin Meloy enough time to recharge his creative batteries. That hope was quickly spoiled by the release of "What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World" in 2015: an album sounding like the flotsam of earlier, unrealized projects, exhumed from the bottom drawer of Meloy's songwriting cabinet.

Predictably, this modest collection of leftovers from the same studio sessions appeared shortly afterward: in effect an EP of outtakes from an album of outtakes. If nothing else, the five songs here marked a full-circle retreat to the unremarkable Indie Rock of the "5 Songs" EP from 2001, in retrospect hardly a Decemberists classic but at least showing some of the youthful aspirations missing from the band's current efforts.

After fifteen years of escalating success the group now sounds a bit jaded, content to rest on their wilting laurels. "Riverswim" is a pretty song, once again mining the same vein of faux-Americana exploited for "The King is Dead" a half-decade earlier. "Fits and Starts" presents another plagiarized R.E.M.-style rocker, one of many already dotting the Decemberist landscape. There's even a song titled "Stateside", by coincidence (or maybe not) a bookend reflection of the "5 Songs" ballad "Oceanside".

Even the signature vocal tremolo of Meloy, so distinctive when he's singing about 'brickbats and Bowery toughs', is fast becoming a tiresome affectation. The Decemberists certainly deserve all the acclaim their music has earned them in the past. But with the eclecticism long gone, and with Meloy complacently treading very shallow water, it might be time to admit his band's best years are behind them.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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