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    The Decemberists:

    The Crane Wife

    Thu, 05 Oct 2006 14:31:11

    Songs from This Album

    "Summersong"

    Album Reviews: The Crane Wife by The Decemberists

    While wandering through a park in my hometown this summer, I came across a confederate civil war re-enactment camp (oddly enough, since I live in Long Island, NY). Twenty or so full-grown men and women were dressed in linens, brandishing bayonets, cooking stew in the ground, and wholeheartedly refusing to admit we now live in the age of iPods and MTV. If they did, be damn sure one of the Decemberists' soldier songs would be blasting out from the flaps of their tents.

    The Crane Wife is old school done modern. For a present day rock band to base an album around a Japanese tale of a crane becoming of woman would seem ridiculous enough -- then they throw in a 12-minute epic about a sailor's journey and some civil war era character sketches. But this is the Decemberists, who've built a critically acclaimed career off singer Colin Meloy's epically verbose historical tales. And this new batch is lighter on SAT verbal and higher in instrumentation, giving their song about kidnapping a landlord's daughter at gunpoint -- one of the album's best -- its well deserved mass appeal.

    The Decemberists wrap their stories -- deceptively full of sordid themes like murder, rape, and other disgraceful behaviors -- in airy packages of jangly acoustic-electric guitars, light percussion, and a few oddball instruments like Wurlitzer and bouzouki. Each song channels the gritty underbelly of civilizations past. If my history classes had been anywhere near this entertaining, I wouldn't have slept through most of them. And you shouldn't sleep on this album. - David Pessah, kNewIt06

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