Sound — 9
This time around, the folk group has pushed their limits. The sound is fresh compared to their past albums. The Decemberists have given their vibe a crisp, somewhat country tone, in addition to their folk and traditional sound. The use of many traditional instruments such as banjos, violins, and even a lute makes them unique but somewhere in the mix is a fresh perspective.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are what you'd expect from a Decemberists album - they tell stories with edge, wisdom and guile. They offer the perspective of a time before the modern world while still addressing the values and issues we have today. The lyrics aren't forced, they fit the music and are entertaining but also make you think. There is a blend of hymn like writing without the religious overtone.
Overall Impression — 8
This is the first album that felt crisp. Many great albums have been recorded in one shot sitting around a few mics. This album felt a bit more pieced, but in a good way. It seemed like that had the feel they wanted and then said, "hey, let's add a bit more". Nothing that over-complicates the sound, they just added enough to bring out something new.