maandag 16 april 2018
I'll Be Your Girl. The Decemberists
From the third song onwards I started to noticed that it seems the band has tried to put in some other sounds into its music. It seems a harder rock, even a glam drums and rhythm edge has blended into the folkish groundwork and the female backing and co-vocals are far more present. In short, my impression started to turn towards a more favourable inclination in the first 15-20 minutes of the album. Yes, this deserves more in-depth study to complete this review.
Some weeks have past and I've bought the record in the meantime, yet my moodswings with the album remain. Just like during that very first Spotify listen session. So let's go back a little in time. The first song I really liked by The Decemberists was '16 Military Wives', still one of my favourites. The album that brought me into its camp was the rock opera of 2009 'The Hazards Of Love'. After that things went up and down with the band for me, but always favourable enough. And in the end that is what happens with I'll Be Your girl.
'Once In My Life' opens the album and listening to it once again I notice that the sound so familiar is interspersed with something very unfamiliar for the band: 80s synths. The 'Wishful Thinking' sound of China Crisis is a part of this song. Those synths enter 'Cutting Stone' as well. It definitely gives the music of The Decemberists something new and refreshing. The drums have a same sort of synthetic sound. My conclusion for now is that his approach works here. The melodies have the folkrock twist this band excels in, the more modern sound gives it a new pace.
When an electric guitar meets the electronics in song 3, 'Severed', the mood gets much darker. Underscoring the lyrics. In 'Tripping Along' the band returns to a more conventional band sound. The kind of song that could have been on 'The Hazard Of Love'. This is totally okay and a silent highlight with its tight, almost mechanic sounding guitar playing. The mix creates a lot of atmosphere in the sound, making the sound almost eerie. A nice step up to 'Your Ghost'?, an up tempo rocker, with some keyboard soloing. With its rolling drums and accent on a tambourine the song is propelled forward ever further. No time to be afraid of ghosts here as we are moving too fast to get scared.
Slowly the album moves into more familiar The Decemberists territory. So on the one hand the album falls into two halves, on the other there is balance. It would not have worked the other way around or through mixing the songs differently, more varied. 'Everything Is Awful'. Well that may be, but not here, not now on I'll Be Your Girl. 'Everything Is Awful' is one of the highlights of the album. Great pace, great harmony singing, great guitar playing and a fine. all enveloping arrangement. The Decemberists at its best.
'Sucker's Prayer' is Dylan all the way. 'I Shall Be Released'. It's Levon Helm who gets into my head though. All three have a typical voice, haven't they? Again I can't help liking the song. The next song is a total failure, well the title. We all sort of missed out as we are still around. "Hope to die before I get old"? Only Keith Moon managed that and at that only in hindsight now I'm so much older, just like The Decemberists. Noting the glamboogie in the song, my mind goes back to Marc Bolan. The drums is more Gary Glitter though and isn't he in jail for something pretty horrible? I don't like the song really either. It's far from the best on I'll Be Your Girl. A band that is around for 17 years no longer has young members, not even relatively. Just ask my (step)children.
The album finishes with another ballad, 'Rusalka, Rusalka/The Wild Rushes'. Slow, dragging its tail over the floor. What a fine song this is again. The use of dynamics is meticulous in the moments before the second part is played, where the arrangement has room for some surprises again. The title song ends it all. A nice song, but that is about all there is to say about it.
It seems all doubts have been set aside. No, this is not a 100% album, but more than good enough and well worth the buy.
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