I received two new albums from my dad as late Christmas presents, so here are a few thoughts on them:
Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World – I really liked the Decemberists’ early work, but I think they’ve lost something more recently. I don’t know if they’re taking themselves too seriously and no longer utilizing as much of the humor they did before, or what. They were always kind of pretentious, but it seemed to be more of a joking pretentiousness before. Still, they put out some good tunes. “Cavalry Captain” is pretty upbeat and in their traditional, somewhat old-fashioned style. It’s pretty much impossible not to like the line from “Philomena” that I quoted in the title, and it has good choir-type backing vocals as well. “Better Not Wake the Baby” and “Easy Come, Easy Go” are pretty catchy as well, the latter having a bit of a nursery rhyme sensibility.
Belle and Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance – While the band had a few more upbeat albums in the previous decade, this one is mostly pretty quiet. I’m sure you could still dance to these songs if you wanted to, though, particularly “The Book of You.” That one has a good beat, I think. Several of the songs have a 1980s feel to them, like “The Power of Three” and “Perfect Couples,” particularly the spoken-word parts on the latter. My favorite is probably “The Everlasting Muse,” which kind of reminds me of “Your Cover’s Blown” in that it switches styles as it goes on, with a klezmer sort of thing going on in the chorus.