Decemberists - Academy, Glasgow
* * *
After a decade as well-liked indie-rock footsoldiers, the Portland, Oregon group’s sixth album The King is Dead unexpectedly topped the American charts in 2011, with this year’s much-awaited follow-up What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World receiving critical acclaim and a top ten placing of its own. Meanwhile, those fans who have afforded them such success clearly love them so much they can fill out a good-sized venue like this, while greeting them with genuine adulation. In this context, admiration for the best of the band’s work is tempered somewhat by a sense of ‘emperor’s new clothes’ where they explore more esoteric territory.
On the one hand there were genuine anthems here, with a rootsy, heart-pounding sense of Arcade Fire-style emotive theatrics to Make You Better, Calamity Song and O Valencia!, while Carolina Low’s stripped-back balladry and the swooning female harmonies and vaguely Bacharach romance of Los Angeles, I’m Yours was also perfectly winning. On the flipside, however, stood the widdly roots-rock of The Island and the self-conscious folk classicisms of The Rake’s Song and The Legionnaire’s Lament, which add up to a diverse sonic palette on record but here unavoidably remind of the Levellers or Green Day in a rustic mood.
Seen on 13 February