The Decemberists are well known for their unique twist on folk music, with beautiful harmonies creating the most alluring songs. What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World shows no difference to what is expected of them as a band, whilst also showing the ever growing passion and creativity they put into their music and albums.
The album kicks off with The Singer Addresses His Audience. Colin Meloy, lead vocalist, shows his extraordinary vocals alongside the harmonies of Jenny Conlee – presenting two incredibly different vocals that combine in the most brilliant of ways. This song ends with a phenomenal breakdown, confirming that their talent lies just not in vocals but in the use of their instruments.
The next few songs are upbeat and folky. Meloy’s vocals are consistent and never drowned out by the mix of instruments. The choral effects on Cavalry Captain and Philomena show how well the band are able to work off each other’s individual talents, whilst emphasising the beauty of their work through the simple repetition of lyrics and the build up of mixed vocals.
The album does however slow down in the middle. Make You Better starts with an enticing instrumental and the lyrics have the ability to rip your heart out. (But we’re not so starry-eyed anymore/Like the perfect paramour you were in your letters). This song illustrates the progression from the band’s earlier albums. Whilst being emotional, Make You Better, keeps you wanting to listen due to the song itself feeling from progression from the heartbreak to the moving on.
For an album to have 14 songs on, and for a listener to be completely engaged, shows the talents provided. The only fault with this album is that it feels almost story-like within its lyrical background, but the songs don’t transition and integrate into each other like they possibly should do. The simplicity throughout allows the band to showcase all their individual talents and bring them together to create the most exquisite album.