Her Majesty The Decemberists
After the freshness of Castaways And Cutouts, there’s something less appealing about sophomore effort Her Majesty The Decemberists, as if the band let their mid-nineteenth century Victoriana whimsy distract them. The salty opener ‘Shanty For The Arethusa’ has an appealingly epic quality, and ‘The Chimbley Sweep’ hops along nicely on its accordion groove, but both can be grating and both feel like the band is on the verge of parodying itself.
Most of standouts from Her Majesty The Decemberists are in the vein of their first album. ‘The Bachelor And The Bride’ has a great chord progression, propulsive acoustic guitar, great support parts with warm organ and guitar arpeggios, all adding up to create a subtly masterful song. The catchy ‘Los Angeles, I’m Yours’ opens into a fantastic string break mid song, ‘Billy Liar’ grooves along nicely on its piano base, ‘Song For Myla Goldberg’ is energetic and infectious, and ‘Red Right Ankle’ is stripped back and affecting. More problematically ‘Shanty For The Arethusa’ does set an interesting tone, but also drags, unless you really like sea shanties, while the low-key closer ‘As I Rise’ isn’t particularly convincing either.
Her Majesty The Decemberists overemphasises The Decemberists’ eccentricities to such an extent that it almost overshadows the musical content.