Across seven studio albums, The Decemberists have traversed almost every corner of the folk canon, led by Colin Meloy’s fascinating, vivid storytelling. Only on 2015’s ‘What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World’ did it start to sound tired.
“When you’ve been a band for 17 years, inevitably there are habits you fall into,” Meloy said upon the announcement of new album ‘I’ll Be Your Girl’ and new track ‘Severed’. “So our ambition this time was really just to get out of our comfort zone.”
And out of their comfort zone they’ve certainly gone: ‘Severed’ is still helmed by Meloy’s instantly recognisable vocal twang, but it’s set above an enticing, squelchy synth line and a bassline to rumble even the strongest of stomachs. Produced with John Congleton (St Vincent, Wild Beasts, Nelly Furtado), the record seems to indicate a leftward step in every sense, and it’s one that looks most welcome from first impression.
‘Severed’ folds out into a gigantic chorus, and while it ends up not being the most memorable song the Decemberists have ever penned, its ambition is what points the way forward.
Enough familiarity to feel like returning home, and enough tweaks to the formula to resist sounding like National-by-numbers.
A fizzing, frantic mission statement showing that, just maybe, growing up isn’t all that.
A wonderful introduction into Hayden’s next age, an ode to quietly, confidently moving on.
A visceral hit of passion and discontent.