The Decembrists tell new tales on the Crane Wife
If one expects theatrics, musical vignettes, and accordions from the Decembrists, then the band will meet and exceed expectations every time.
The new album from the Decembrists, The Crane Wife, is no exception.
This release has plenty of commonalities with other albums: the first person narratives, quirky, clever tunes, and an accessibility generally reserved for Top 40 radio; but it seems the comparisons probably should end there.
The Crane Wife is its own story.
In a move nearly reminiscent of a Tarantino film, “The Crane Wife 3” actually opens the album by first revealing the effect of events revealed “The Crane Wife 1 & 2,” that follows as track two on the album. In an even bolder move by the Decembrists, “The Crane Wife 1 & 2” actually pairs two very different songs onto the same track.
Don’t let album title fool you, either — The Crane Wife isn’t an album about Japanese folklore; “Yankee Bayonet” describes the ordeal suffered by two lovers separated by the civil war, and “O’ Valencia” is a drum-driven dedication to a pair of star-crossed lovers who once resided in fair Verona.
Absent in this round are the raw gut-punches of emotion (like when you first heard, “And if you don’t love me, let me go…”) that were so prevalent on Picaresque.
Instead, Colin and Co. create a brand new set of experiences and travels through distant lands with intricate tales, and with the narrative in mind on this album, there is no question of the unmatched relevance of every sound produced.
The Decemberists break from any musical molds which may exist and demonstrate, rather nicely, a taste of their true musical talent, in “The Island…”, an unabashedly entertaining twelve and half minute Pink Floyd-esque epic.
This album is a collection of stories about everyday people put in very specific situations. However, the album is more about the emotions of the people, and less about the specifics of their stories.
But when do the specifics of the story ever really mattered in indie rock? Rarely.
The Crane Wife is about you and me, as much as it is anyone else—the betrayal, hopeless frustration, shame, loss and pain caused by regrettable actions (not always our own) that we will all sadly experience.
The album is nothing short of theatrical brilliance.