February 5, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 39°F

Life & Culture

Review: Indie band returns with album dedicated to fans

"What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World"

The Decemberists

After a four-year hiatus, The Decemberists have reintroduced themselves to the indie-rock genre with near-perfect instrumentation and lyrics in their seventh LP, titled “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.” The album touches upon themes such as love, adolescence, patience and trying to become a better person. The instrumentals change throughout each song as do the tempos, adding to the album’s greatness by providing a wide range of sounds.

The album starts off with a dedication to the band’s fans in “The Singer Addresses His Audience.” The message of the song is that even though the band took time off, it knows its fans have stayed. According to the lyrics, the band is also “Aware that you cut your hair/ In a style that our drummer wore/ In a video.” The song’s main chorus proclaims that the band “belongs to you,” referencing the fans that support it even after its hiatus. The composition of slow and somber guitar chords layered throughout the song make the song more emotionally compelling and touching for the band’s fans.

One of the slower tracks, “12/17/12,” uses the album’s title in the chorus as the lead singer sings, “And oh my God, what a world you would make here/ What a terrible world, what a beautiful word/ What a world you would make here.” The song is about standing out and becoming one’s own identity in a terrible but beautiful world, and is one of the most relatable and motivational songs on the album.

This latest release is a change for The Decemberists because, unlike their usual rock ’n’ roll sound, this album is folksy and free-spirited. The instrumentation and lyrics are catchy and fun, and the new sound of the band creates an album that is well worth listening to.

Ashley Wolf can be reached at awolf2@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @@ashleyjcwolf