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Album Review: The Decemberists - 'As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again'

Alt-folk legends The Decemberists are back with their first release in six years! Though it should be noted, the band never intended to be away so long. Lead singer Colin Meloy kept himself busy in that ensuing period through passion projects of literature, with his best-selling series Westwood (which is set to become a major motion picture). That said, their return has been marked with the release of singles "Burial Ground", "Oh No!", and "All I Want Is You". All are strong singles that have performed amicably on streaming services to drum up excited and fervor for the release of their impending new album, As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again.

The album begins with a flash in singles "Burial Ground" and "Oh No!" both full of Meloy's signature vocal stylings and his literary-esque lyrical tendencies. The Decemberists' accompaniment to Meloy's vocals are so strong on the third track "The Reapers" as they playfully execute a sound that evokes comparisons to an almost Renaissance-age ballad.

What I heard next absolutely stopped my heart...Pedal steel, on an album from The Decemberists? It couldn't be...But it was. On "Long White Veil", there is a heavy dose of pedal steel guitar that makes one think of more country rooted music. The lyrics to the song deal of love and loss and the pedal steel works so perfectly to pull at the listener's heartstrings as the band masterfully have done so many times in the past.

The sounds take a somber tone halfway through the album on the somber toned "Don't Go to The Woods". The piano which is accompanied by finger-picked acoustic guitar throughout, really sets a more serious tone than the band's more playful efforts earlier on in the album. Things pick up with "Born to the Morning" which features some interesting, playful sonic tones, and effects laden vocals from Meloy. The album has a playful jam to it that evokes comparisons to Wilco, especially in it's use of keys.

The Decemberists have long shown they're not afraid to play with sound, tone, and themes. The same goes for As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again. In comparison to their prior effort, 2018's I'll Be Your Girl, we can see the continued musical evolution of the band even after 22 years at it. The also experiment with theme in that this record will be a double LP with four themed sides to it. It's definitely a great listen, but is also a filling meal of a record!

Rating - 4/5

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