The building crescendo of Colin Meloy’s acoustic guitar progression on Once In My Life continues to tease fans who have been itching for a new Decemberists album since 2015’s What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. I’ll Be Your Girl is their eighth full-length record and the opening track truly grabs your full attention. As the drums kick in and the main beat drops, you’ll notice some experimental studio effects, which adds to this album’s signature sound and style. Although the band may have done something different on this project, the overarching advantage of this band is their consistent genius in crafting indie folk anthems.
On Cutting Stone, the music transitions into a brief slow chant, bonfire vibe. The slow beginning of this song builds excitement for the remainder of the song as the full band sound grooves along. The edgy, electro vibes continue on Severed, the first hit single from this new batch of songs. The recurring keyboard melodies keep listeners intrigued and contribute to the songs powerful momentum.
Track four, Starwatcher, displays Meloy’s simple, natural talent for songwriting. The vibrant acoustic guitar strumming in the beginning of the song foreshadows the exact beat that the bass drum kicks along. This is a hidden songwriting skill and proves the bands masterful grasp on their dynamics and songwriting musicianship. Tripping Along slows down the heavy streak of rock and roll and gives listeners a few minutes to find peace in The Decemberists’ intimate, lullaby esque style. Although it is performed on an electric guitar, without a doubt the song has an acoustic feel all the way through. A major highlight on this song is the bridge because of it’s clever timing and beautiful key changes.
The album blasts off immediately again on Your Ghost. The driving, military style drumbeat brings to mind the rapid energy of The Infanta, the opening song on their third record Picaresque. Another hit single that has gained a lot of radio attention since the release is Everything is Awful. Similar to Severed, the song shares a happy, feel good acoustic vibe that all Decemberists fans have been hooked on since 2002, despite the honest and gnarly lyrics.
And now to everyone’s favorite new Decemberists song Sucker’s Prayer, which echoes choral elements from The Beatles’ Don’t Let Me Down. This song gains immediate favoritism because it has everything your favorite Decemberist song has: belting harmonies, simple structure and a catchy chorus. This track will be on immediate repeat the first time through, and with every listen you’ll want to keep repeating more and more.
We All Die Young concludes the boisterous, rowdy Decemberists style on this album. The party vibe makes this song even more fun and will keep listeners on their feet one last time for this release. Colin then brings a more gentle, soft song to the table. Rusalka, Rusalka / The Wild Rushes paints a dark, serious vibe on a mostly upbeat and rocking record. It’s important to mix in different styles so fans can hear a variety. The title track then brings fans a mix of both styles and perfectly evens-out the brilliant and infectious signature Decemberists sound. It is tough to rank The Decemberists’ albums, but this one may be top 2 or 3 for me.
Scott J. Herman