They capture the stillness and melancholy of winter beautifully
Well-crafted is the dullest of all compliments but with an album by The Decemberists it’s pretty much unavoidable. The way they put together their country-rock is rarely less than tasteful with some nice moments, like the sinuous guitar riff of ‘Calamity Song’. Only on ‘January Hymn’, though, where they capture the stillness and melancholy of winter beautifully, do you forget to check the joinery. Elsewhere their love-affair with country occasionally strays into line-dance territory (‘All Arise!‘) or the kind of cheap rabble-rousing (‘This Is Why We Fight‘) that might make the Levellers wonder why they never get the critical acclaim of American bands like The Decemberists.