The Decemberists – Always the Bridesmaid: A Single Series, Vol. I-III

The saying goes, “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” but marital bliss is not nearly as tempting as new material from The Decemberists, thus I’m content with Always the Bridesmaid. Leaving cheesy leads behind and in all seriousness, Always the Bridesmaid is a series of singles by the Portland artists to help lead up to their 2009 full-length album release entitled Hazards of Love. All these titles sound so optimistic, don’t they?

Vol. I is out October 14th. On one side you have “Valerie Plame,” a bombastic song weighed down by big instruments like trombone and the disparaging lyrics as we learn more about the title lady of many names. On the flip side is the catchy, but sad, “O New England.” In this song, Colin Meloy sings of traveling to New England in rekindle a love flame, “This here is the fable of a failed attempt to find new life in a love in the seat of its origin.” However, when he gets there, he gets scared and realizes it just isn’t going to happen, so he sings, “O New England, in the face of your empire, I think I’d rather just wait in the car.” I wasn’t a big fan of the harmonies on this one, but I loved the lyrics.

The piano-driven Vol. II drops on November 4th. I feel it is the least interesting of the volumes. “Days of Elaine” is a sunny sounding piano number juxtaposed with reflective and solemn lyrics about failed attempts to fix things. “Sticking With You” is a rather vaudevillian number with its staccato chords. It is just so abrupt, it comes off as a amateurish for this band.

The third and final volume, Vol. III, will be released December 2nd. Of the three volumes, this folkier collection is my favorite. The “empire” referred to in the first volume is again referred to in “Record Year” when Meloy sings, “Because I’m watching it slip away and in the annals of the empire did it look this grey before the fall?” A gut-wrenching cello rounds this number out. More lonely and sad lyrics follow in “Raincoat Song,” where Meloy sings, “And the raincoat that you wore when it rained today, I think it only made it rain more.”

Although some or the volumes are more accessible for listeners’ enjoyment, I would recommend checking out the whole series because you can never have too much of the Decemberists in your music collection.

Vol. I:
01. Valerie Plame
02. O New England
Vol. II:
01. Days of Elaine
02. Sticking With You
Vol. III:
01. Record Year
02. Raincoat Song

The Decemberists: website | myspace

Written by: Bethany



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