ALBUM REVIEW: The Decemberists – As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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YABB Records

Released: 14.06.24







The very long-awaited and welcome return of The Decemberists is finally upon us, and what a return. The band’s first intentional double album is a tour through genre and themes, split into four sections, the first three each with their own distinct tone and culminating in an epic crescendo. Peppered with dour themes of cynicism, loss, longing and capitalism, Colin Meloy has really gone all out on As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again.

Opening with the upbeat Burial Ground, the first four tracks carry a similar enthusiasm, and despite the darker themes that run amongst them, there is an inherent excitement bouncing through. Long White Veil carries this same tone but has an undercurrent of pedal steel that brings it to life.

The second section of the record certainly feels more subdued. Whilst the themes remain the same, the tracks are punctuated with an Americana tone, elevating Meloy’s voice to the fore in dramatic style. The Black Maria flourishes, with an underlying horn section complementing the delicacy of the track.

The thematic sections within As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again are easily recognisable, but the third feels like a particularly harsh gear change. Born To The Morning comes alive quickly and is elevated away from the quaint acoustic nature of the section before, leading to something altogether more rousing. Its swirling synthesisers colliding with mouth organs feels like a completely different record in some senses.

This uplift is retained through America Made Me, Tell Me What’s On Your Mind and Never Satisfied, yet they retain similar themes to the rest of the record. This all builds to the rousing crescendo of Joan In The Garden, a nineteen-minute epic which cuts across the themes explored previously, tying them all together. Its delicate start morphs into introspective synths before culminating in a rousing conclusion.

As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again is a huge record, twisting and turning through its four themes, each feeling well defined whilst maintaining a level of coherence with the others. A very welcome return from The Decemberists.


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