The record, The Decemberists' fifth and the follow-up to 2009's vastly disappointing prog-rock concept album The Hazards of Love, is out on January 18th, and it marks a substantial shift in style, away from the more theatrical material they've focused on of late, and back to a relatively bare-boned folk sound, inspired in equal parts by traditional American folk and the British folk that's always played such a big role in defining the band's sound.
I'll have much more to say about it when it comes out in a couple weeks, but I've enjoyed my time with it so far. The first song in particular, "Don't Carry It All," finds them in a sweet spot, with a ringing harmonica, loud, floppy acoustic guitar, commanding drums and a supremely likable, refreshingly direct and rousing vocal performance. I've not yet decided if I like it enough to warrant the $165 price tag of this extremely limited deluxe edition of the album, which includes a polaroid, taken by Autumn de Wilde, during the recording sessions for the album. I'm considering it, though.