by The Decemberists


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"The Infanta," the thunderous opening track on the Decemberists' fluid and predictably studious Picaresque, rolls in like a ghost ship at 40 knots in a hail of cannon fire with a mad English professor at the wheel. Colin Meloy and his esteemed West Coast colleagues have no qualms about beginning their third full-length record with a processional about a child monarch, and it's a testimony to their talents as orators and interpreters of both the absurd and the mundane that they continue to assimilate more fans than they alienate. While Picaresque follows its predecessor's -- the treacly Her Majesty -- predilection for seafaring and mythology, its boot-covered feet are more firmly planted in the present, resulting in the group's most accessible -- and decidedly upbeat -- product to date. The rollicking "16 Military Wives," the aforementioned "Infanta," and "The Sporting Live" (which comes dangerously close to Belle & Sebastian's "Stars of Track and Field") help balance the spooky atmospherics of more reserved cuts like "From My Own True Love (Lost at Sea)" and "Eli, the Barrow Boy." The Decemberists have always excelled at midtempo British folk-inspired dream pop, and Picaresque is no exception, as the brooding "We Both Go Down Together," which sounds like a mist-drenched Pacific Northwest rendering of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," and the wistful "Engine Driver" rank among the group's finest offerings. The album concludes with the diabolical "Mariner's Revenge Song," a Tin Pan Alley dirge/operetta reminiscent of Kurt Weill's "The Black Freighter," and the brief but intoxicating "Of Angels and Angles," a solo Meloy ballad celebrating the holy trinity of nautical lore: love, drowning, and death.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/22/2005
Label: Kill Rock Stars
UPC: 0759656042529
catalogNumber: 60425
Rank: 35775

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Decemberists   Primary Artist
Petra Haden   Violin,Vocals,Voices
Eric Stern   Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Aaron Stewart   Tom-Tom,Tam-tam
Sean Nelson   Vocals,Voices
Paul Brainard   Trumpet
Chris Walla   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Jeff London   shofar
Rachel Blumberg   Drums,Vocals
Chris Funk   Guitar
Colin Meloy   Guitar,Vocals
Jenny Conlee   Accordion,Keyboards,Voices
Carson Ellis   Group Member
Dawn Barger   Group Member
Tom Hill   Trombone
Joe Cunningham   Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone

Technical Credits

Paul Brainard   Horn Arrangements
Chris Walla   Producer,Audio Production
Decemberists   Producer
Colin Meloy   Composer
John Roderick   Sound Effects
Carson Ellis   Illustrations,Costume Design

Customer Reviews

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Picaresque 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is great if you haven't heard any of their earlier stuff. If you have, it comes across as a re-hash that fails to grow musically. Of course, there's some good stuff on this CD, especially the track "We Both Go Down Together" (yeah, so it is the most popular track, but it's still great, and I'm no elitist). Also, this album shows that The Decemberists are consistently good at what they do, but if you already own it's predecessors then there really is no reason to pick this album up - nothing new here, and the impact the CD has is significantly lessened by that fact. Ok, alright, I can't be too hard on the Decemberists, they're great, buy if you're a die-hard fan, or a collector.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I almost want to give this cd a bad review so I can keep this awesome band all to myself, but I'll make a supreme effort and conquer my selfishness. It really is a very good album, especially if you love the feeling of living in the past that comes with their very victorian themes "eli the barrow boy" (a story of a barrow boy that sells "coal and marigolds") "we both go down together" (the story of a rich boy and a poor tramp that fall in love and commit suicide because his family won't consent to it)-- both of these tracks are adorable. I really think you should go out and buy it today... you'll be as rabid as I am about them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is great. It varies from slower, melodramatic pieces to more upbeat, bouncy tracks. The title really says it all - "picaresque" is definitely the best word to describe it. The songs are very original and vary in themes. Compared to most other popular bands, the Decemberists are similar to a breath of fresh air. Anyone with taste and a quirky side will eat this up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Indeed, their newest release remains faithful to their past efforts...amazing themes and scenarios, and it's SO DAMN CATCHY! I LOVE IT! These song just get lodged in your head and won't come out for days.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First time I heard them, I wasn't all that big on them. But when I actally gave them a chance, the music just blows my mind. You can say that it sounds the same as the other c.d.'s, but which band doesn't have that same feel always? Eli, the barrow boy is just such an amazing arrangemt of sound. I def. reccomend this to anybody wth any musical taste who will appreciate fine music.
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