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The Decemberists: Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series


The Decemberists

Album: Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series
Label: Jealous Butcher

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The next Decemberists full-length, due in March, has already been touted as a "rock opera," which bodes ill for fans who love the anachro-rock band at its poppiest and most direct. These six songs—available on three separate, lovingly packaged 12-inch singles, or as a download—look back to the band's simpler days. "Valerie Plame," about the outed CIA agent, is as insidiously catchy as Decemberists songs get: It isn't great, but it's a massive sing-along, and it culminates in a "Hey Jude"-style chorus, which suits Colin Meloy's grand ambitions. But elsewhere, these singles look back to the days of Her Majesty The Decemberists: "O New England" is deliciously ambitionless, just a great melody line and simple beat, while "Record Year" offers the sort of spare melancholy that Meloy does so well. An unnecessary cover of The Velvet Underground's "I'm Sticking With You" indulges some of The Decemberists' more dramatic, showtune-inspired tendencies, but the rest of these pleasers more than make up for it.