I'll Be Your Girl

The Decemberists

Capitol, 2018


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


A fairly radical departure from the standard Decemberists sound, the band’s eighth album finds them moving away from the old-timey indie prog-folk of their older records and veering into pop, rock and even new wave influences.

For some, the move will seem like a radical shift a la Arcade Fire, but a listen to I’ll Be Your Girl as a whole finds instead Colin Meloy weaving his new influences into his trademark sound and approach. “Cutting Stone” and “Tripping Along” bring the band’s established sound but with modern flair, providing a gateway to the Morrissey-isms of “Once In My Life,” which may not win any awards for Best Lyrics but certainly sets the tone of the album from the outset.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The strident, galloping “Your Ghost” brings a rock vibe akin to Muse, with layered vocals, keyboard sound effects and a guitar solo, all in less than three minutes. It’s a little too offbeat (for normal standards, not for these guys, who live in offbeat) for mainstream radio play but alt-rock fans will love it. Better still is the radio hit “Severed,” a cheerful pop tune about a serial killer that rides an upbeat new wave drum pattern and sets it to both a synthesizer pattern and some Morricone Western-styled guitar. It’s catchy and creepy.

A guitar solo pops up again on “Sucker’s Prayer” and “Everything is Awful”; other than on Hazards Of Love, I don’t remember the electric guitar being so prominent in the Decemberists milieu. Things then shift into Iggy Pop territory with “We All Die Young,” in which Meloy sneers the title track, children chant in the background and a truly wonky solo. If Iggy hears it, I hope he’s proud. The album then does a 180 into the solemn “Rusalka, Rusalka/Wild Rushes,” an eight-minute epic dirge that layers on the instruments and voices as it progresses through the first part before veering into the acoustic-guitar-led second part. The best parts of the story-song recall the classic Decemberists albums of the late 2000s.

For many artists, an album with this many sounds would feel disjointed, but Meloy and the band find their own style and approach throughout the 43-minute run time. I’ll Be Your Girl pulls strength from what has come before but expands and relaxes the band’s heretofore Serious Approach. The compelling end result is as much fun as anything they’ve ever done and is, in all honesty, the band’s best work since 2009’s Hazards of Love.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2018 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.