The Crane Wife Takes Flight

The Crane Wife album coverA favorite of disgruntled English majors, indie rock critics, and chimney sweeps everywhere, the Decemberists just put out their fourth album, The Crane Wife. It’s a big milestone for the band as it marks their major-label debut on Capitol Records. Fortunately, they haven’t forsaken their unique musical landscapes and erudite storytelling for drum machines and songs about “My Humps.”

If anything, The Crane Wife is even more ambitious than previous Decemberists albums. Inspired by a Japanese folk tale, it runs the gamut from four-minute pop songs (“O Valencia!”) to twelve-minute prog rock epics exploring murder, abduction, and rape (“The Island”). And, of course, Jenny Conlee’s accordion makes a few appearances, most notably on “Summersong” and “Sons and Daughters”. It took a couple listens to win me over, but I’m really loving this album.

The Decemberists kick off their Fall tour — The Rout of the Patagons Tour 2006 — tomorrow night in Portland and will be in San Francisco and Los Angeles later this week. We saw them a couple years ago (with one of our favorite, non-accordion bands, the Long Winters) and they were fantastic, so grab tickets if you can.

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