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Picaresque


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Amazon's The Decemberists Store

Music

Image of album by The Decemberists

Photos

Image of The Decemberists

Biography

Life as a musician means continual evolution. Over the course of a career, any band worth paying attention to will pursue a sound, a direction, until it triggers a different idea and they’re chasing some other distant dream. With their sixth album, The King Is Dead, The Decemberists illustrate the power that comes from this kind of creative call-and-response.
When the band completed ... Read more in Amazon's The Decemberists Store

Visit Amazon's The Decemberists Store
for 16 albums, 8 photos, discussions, and more.

Product details

  • Audio CD (5 Nov. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Kill Rock Stars
  • ASIN: B0007M22S4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,191 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Infanta
2. We Both Go Down Together
3. Eli, The Barrow Boy
4. The Sporting Life
5. The Bagman's Gambit
6. From My Own True Love (Lost At Sea)
7. 16 Military Wives
8. The Engine Driver
9. On The Bus Mall
10. The Mariner's Revenge Song
11. Of Angels And Angles

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "dennis-owl" on 31 Aug. 2005
Format: Audio CD
This was a spur of the moment buy, based on a Guardian review - not always a reliable source but it sounded intriguing. What a lucky choice! These aren't just songs, these are a collection of wonderful, sometimes surreal, stories plucked from goodness knows where by the mind of writer Colin Maloy. It reminds me of the old English folk tradition of recounting tales of derring do and woe in equal measure. 'This Sporting life' tells of one man's embarrassment at a 'Charlie Brown' moment on the playing field (been there myself),' The Mariner's Revenge Song' is a haunting tale of a son given to seeking out the man responsible for his mother's death and eventually finding themselves together in the belly of a whale - all set to a rousing sea shanty song, complete with accordian. Entrancing stuff! Almost every track is a gem - it's the sort of album where you find yourself singing the songs long after you've switched the player off. Almost every song/story is a gem. Oh, just buy it -it's fab!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L.M Fox (Mrs) on 31 Aug. 2009
Format: Audio CD
Now, this may seem a little over the top but I think they jolly well have! They have turned me into one of those people who only like to listen to the same one or two bands ALL the time, despite the fact that their favourite bands are many.
'Picaresque' is only the second Decemberists album in my possession (The first being 'The Hazards Of Love' which I must listen to at least once a day), and it is a sheer joy from beginning to end. My personal favourite has to be 'We both go down together' which picks up Mr Meloy's recurrent theme of drowning/suicide pact inducing, all consuming love.
I really struggle to explain to people who ask 'what music do you like', but that is the benefit of only listening to two bands. You don't have to describe it 'Belle and Sebastian and The Decemberists' is my reply and with a puff of smoke , I am gone and they have not got a clue what I am on about.
So in conclusion, but this one and that one and any other one there is and give your brain a treat!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Aug. 2005
Format: Audio CD
don't suppose this is for everyone, so individual and original are The Decemberists (folk-pop-indie-rock?), but, my god, do I love it myself. I don't really know what to say about it. Great melodies, great stories in the words, a haunting voice. It's got everything. It swells and crashes like storm-bred waves; it's folk yet its indie-rock; it's the most atmospheric music I've heard in years. I could listen to it for hours and hours. I do. I've not heard anything like it before.
This is certainly my favourite of their releases so far. They get better and better. Highlights include "The Engine Driver" (a lovely lament), "A Cautionary Song" (bawdy and sad), "We Both Go Down Together" (moving, tragic) and "The Mariner's Revenge Song" (a true sea-going epic!) Oh, and watch out for the sombre and solemn "Eli, the Barrow Boy" - it might lead to a little tear or two. Actually, there are so many great tracks here, almost all of them are special.
I can't guarantee that you'll like this but, well, you should; it's superb stuff. Music just as it should be. Have a listen to The Engine Driver (available at various places online) and if you like then go straight out and GET THIS ALBUM. You won't regret it. I'm making all my friends listen to them now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Dinosaur on 9 July 2007
Format: Audio CD
Colin Meloy is an excellent songwriter. "Picaresque" is extremely varied and a very entertaining album which reveals more of itself with every listen. There's the anthemic opener "The Infanta", and the radio-friendly "We Both Go Down Together", who's opening string section is great. Two very dark but brilliant tracks are "Eli The Barrow Boy" and "From My Own True Love". "Engine Driver" is another well-balanced number which wouldn't be a million miles from home on a more subdued Weezer album, and the piano in the background works to great effect. "On The Bus Mall" is an infectious, dreamy work of art, too.

Needless to say, it is worth buying this album just for the phenomenal "The Mariner's Revenge Song", which tells the story of a man who's mother's tearaway husband leaves her in debt. Her dying words are basically "avenge me and kill him", so the man sets out looking for him and the song tells the story of his life and the fateful confrontation with the said tearaway after being swallowed by a whale. Think Moby Dick takes on Pinocchio takes on pirates. At almost nine minutes it's an excellent fantasy epic which deserves all the attention it gets. It's also the best use of an accordion (if there is actually one used- a damn good impersonation if there isn't) I can think of.

A couple of tracks seem a little flat, and "The Sporting Line", for example, is possibly a little repetitive, but this record should be part of any real indie fan's collection. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
I think Picaresque and the following Crane Wife are where The Decemberists are really at their heighest points of greatness. Picaresque takes the bleakness that dominated the excellent Castaways and Cutouts and the more upbeat sounds of Her Majesty and melds them into a really great album.

It opens with the Italian spiced, Infanta, which contains a great description of the royals as the celebrate the Infanta on her birthday. It is followed by the beautiful ballad, We Both Go Down Together, where the lyrics soar and the violin really adds a sense of beautiful urgency to this track. It is followed by a folkish, simpler but equally powerful ballad, Eli The Barrow Boy.

The Spoting Life is a little weaker than the opening three, but has a nice rythmic beat and anyone who fails at sports can really relate to it. We then return to the bleak despair found in The Bagman's Gambit, a wonderful Lament of a broken soul. I think it has an amazing story to it also. My Own True Love (Lost At Sea) is nice in its own way, but kind of forgettable, though I do like the plodding beat carried by the drums and gongs throughout and it acts as a nice break between Bagman's Gambit and 16 Military Wives, which is a song where both the music and vocals are really tight, creating a great and accessible listen.

The Engine Driver is the first Decemberists song that I heard and it is up there with the best of them. On The Bus Mall carries on the greatness of this band, but the real peak is The Mariner's Revenge Song, which features the best storyline on the album and a pounding mix of soft and hard music, infused by accordians, violins and several guitars to really add a dramatic effect. The album winds down with Of Angels and Angles, a nice release after its feriocious predessesor.
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