ONE of American indie’s most distinctive voices, Colin Meloy and The Decemberists hit the jackpot last time out when their sixth album, The King is Dead, became an unlikely Billboard Chart topper.
As with many breakthrough records, it was no universal hit among fans, with many bemoaning the leap from prog-folk tendency and complex narrative to sun-kissed melody and vintage R.E.M.
The most striking aspect of this follow-up, then, is the frankness with which Meloy confronts the naysayers, with The Singer Addresses His Audience’s reassuring refrains of “we know we belong to you” followed by an acknowledgement that “we had to change some.”
Musically, meanwhile, its songs return to a more traditional Decemberists sound, though structure-wise these three-to-four-minute cuts remain conspicuous in their simplicity.
That said, there are plenty of gems to mine, with the likes of The Wrong Year, Carolina Low and Anti-Summersong occupying a middle-ground which should satisfy all parties. 7/10. AW