Perhaps it should be obvious with an album title like What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, that the album's theme should be duplicity. It's something that has been done before, even in the genre which The Decemberists are known for. I loved the Simon & Garfunkel cut of Silent Night merged with a clip from the "Seven O'clock News." I know that it's possible for artists and music video producers to make such a cut now, but it just doesn't seem like something this brilliant has been done lately.
As I said in the previous blog, people nowadays are too afraid to stand up for their beliefs, for fear of being labeled an extremist, a racist, or an out of touch crazy person. It's what I find so refreshing about the Decemberists music, that they make bold statements with their music, and it hearkens us back to the folk music of the 60's. So as I listened to The King Is Dead album, with the "Bold and Brilliant" songs that are so much different from the excrement being played on the radio today (and I hear enough of it at work, I should know), I began to fear that their next album would be nothing like it, and it would be simply a shining diamond amongst a cable car of coal. It would be just another flash of genius like Keane's first album, or John Mayer's first album. I should have placed more faith in them, however. What The Decemberists produced was an album of songs written and formed and molded into a masterpiece. Social Media and the Internet has allowed Colin Meloy to describe the creation of the album, how it all came together, and I find it endlessly fascinating.
He says "We had to change, some." It what is so notable about the last two albums, because I go back and listen to the first 5 they released, and I just don't like them as much. They're darker, more "alternative," and they rely on solely narrative tracks about Mariners and dark and Gothic characters. I once read an article debating whether the Decemberists were an "Emo" band. With these last two albums, the answer is a resounding "no." This is why many of the reviews for The King is Dead are so negative. They didn't want their band to change. Well, Meloy had kids, one of the band members had breast cancer, and they started looking at life differently. They had to change, some.