What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
Where's an erstwhile indie band to go after scoring a No. 1 album? If you're The Decemberists, you keep a tight grip on your rarefied blend of idiosyncrasy and accessibility. Following up their commercial hit The King Is Dead, the Portland troupe continue to craft graceful, pop-kissed melodies with lambent folk-rock arrangements. On What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, the band muse about everything from carnal cravings ("Philomena") to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting ("12/17/12"). Yet, The Decemberists' best subject proves to be themselves, whether they're feigning an apology to fans for their artistic evolution ("The Singer Addresses His Audience") or unfurling the bookish equivalent of Bob Seger's "Night Moves" (the luminous "Lake Song").