There is a lot about I like about The Decemberists... The folk-influenced sound, the melodies, the witty lyrics, and especially their extremely fun live show. They have the best stage presence of maybe any band I've seen live, much of which could be attributed to Colin Meloy's refusal to take himself too seriously (at both of the shows I've been to, he introduced the song "Dracula's Daughter" as "the very worst song [he] ever wrote").
To really experience this band, you have to see them live, but The Crane Wife best exemplifies what I like about them. It has several examples of catchy folk-pop songs, as well as two lengthy (by folk-rock standards) epics that give you hints of the more ambitious attempt at a rock opera that would come with The Hazard of Love.
It's really hard to pick a favorite Decemberists album, since none of them seem quite serious enough to be a magnum opus, but this is the one I'd consider the most well-balanced. It is ambitious enough to make you feel like a lot of thought was put into it, but not serious enough for it to be pretentious. And it is just well-written, catchy, and diverse.
- O Valencia!
- Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
- Sons and Daughters
- The Crane Wife 3