Album Review: The Decemberists, ‘What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World’


It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since The Decemberists released their last studio album, The King Is Dead. Since then folk music has made a real resurgence in popular culture with artists like Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and Of Monsters and Men have reaching both commercial and critical success. Right now is the perfect time for The Decemberists to come back into the spotlight and if their latest album is any indication, it looks like the band is back for good.

The album begins with ‘The Singer Addresses His Audience,’ where lead singer Colin Meloy is literally speaking to his fans both acknowledging the changes the band has gone through and that the band belongs to the fans. It’s a sweet and soft track with great ending buildup that makes you wonder if ‘The Singer Addresses His Audience’ should have been saved as the last track on the album. It could have been What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful Worlds’ swan song.

Upbeat and insatiably catchy tracks such as ‘Calvary Captain’ and ‘Make You Better’ are easily the highlights of the album. ‘Make You Better’ was the first single off the album and The Decemberists made a great video for it featuring the always-hilarious Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation). Other notable tracks on the album are ‘Lake Song,’ a hauntingly beautiful song that becomes more and more emotional with each lyric Meloy sings.

Four years is way too long to hear new music from The Decemberists. They are and will always be a staple of the indie rock genre. Their latest album is a heartfelt, beautifully written, and provides the first glimpse of summer during this cold and miserable winter. The world needs more bands like The Decemberists. No matter how terrible or beautiful it is.

Rating: 8/10

Pick up The Decemberists’ ‘What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World’ on iTunes or Amazon.

Al Mannarino is the associate editor and photographer for Pop Break. He is also host of the News Over Brews Podcast, Loot Care Unboxed, Backstage Break, and the producer of Behind the Brews. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino. His photo website is: