The Decemberists 
The Tain
/acuarela; 2004/



more info:

It starts with a slow blues riff, Colin Meloy sounds intriguing, like a child with a very special plan. And well, drums kick in, an electric organ joins and it sounds like Iron Butterfly. Who would have thought that The Decemberists would come back with a 20 minutes-long song divided in five totally different parts, some reminiscent of early metal ? I sure wouldn't have.


Still, this is great. There's a charm about Colin Meloy's band that turns everything it touches into somethng enjoyable. they're always disarmingly sincere. Parts 1 and 2 are 70s metal. Not updated, just 70s metal as if it had been recorded in the 70s. Part 3 is mellower, just an electric guitar and Meloy, quickly joined by laid back drums & bass guitar. It sounds a bit more like a typical Decemberists song. It's great. I really like the backing vocals. Part 4 is an electric piano and one of the girls in the band singing with a cute girl's voice. It's my favourite part of the piece, reminiscent of the Beatles until an accordion shows up. Arrangements include the use of a bicycle bell, and then it goes all bohemian and circus-like. Part 5 is a grand closer, with the band rocking again, reaching for the stars. 


Maybe it's just me, but they could get away with anything. Who knows what they'll do next? One thing we can almost be sure of is that it'll sound vintage. Even though this ep is quite surprising, it's good to see the band evolve and explore new territory. Of course it's all the more enjoyable when the exploration is done in such a brilliant way.


Finally i'd like to mention that the vinyl version of The Tain, available on, features the Decemberists' first ep on side B. Of course the six songs on their debut ep are not as daring as "The Tain," but man (girl), you gotta hear "Shiny" and "My Mother Was a Chinese Trapese Artist."


-Barbara H

/mar 15th 2004/