The Decemberists, The Waterboys, B.C Camplight: Album reviews
What A Terrible World… Is The Decemberists’ best yet
The Decemberists: What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World (Rough Trade)
The Decemberists, from Portland, Oregon, are a band out of time. Not only does songwriter Colin Meloy, embrace historical themes with a breezy insouciance, most notably on recent LP The Hazards Of Love, he combines rock, jazz, folk and blues in that effortless way bands used to in the 70s.
What A Terrible World… Is the band’s best yet: on the surface a warm, woody, comfortable sort of record, reminiscent on the epic, piano-driven Lake Song of John and Beverley Martyn’s work with The Band, and on Carolina Low of the great Bert Jansch.
But there’s an irresistible cheekiness to it too: from the cod-folky fragment that Better Not Wake The Baby, through the brilliant, singalong chorus of Easy Come, Easy Go to the sweet, coming-of-age lyric to Philomena: “all that I wanted in the world, was to see a naked girl”. The Decemberists might just might be the best band in America at the moment.
The Waterboys: Modern Blues (Harlequin And Clown)
The most intimate, personal offering from Waterboy-in-chief Mike Scott to date, Modern Blues is very much an evocation of pleasures past, whether it be the disappearing record and bookshops, bars and cafes catalogued on Nearest Thing To Hip, or the lovers recalled on November Tale, Beautiful Now and, especially, The Girl Who Slept For Scotland.
The latter is warm, witty and beautifully written: “Her kisses popped like suns”. Modern Blues may have been recorded in Nashville, but it has turned back Dublin-dwelling Scott to the glories of home.
B.C Camplight: How To Die In The North (Bella Union)
Under the moniker B.C Camplight, Philadelphia’s Brian Christinzio emerges here as a major songwriting force. He takes a long hard look at his own early life throughout this, his third album, starting with the self-explanatory You Should Have Gone To School, a confessional borne on breathy harmonies and sumptious power-chords.
Highlight, though, is Just Because I Love You. With the first truly great pop chorus of 2015 it could have been lifted straight from an early Todd Rundgren album.