hey folks! we’re back with some From the Vault discography reviews. after reviewing King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, i moved on to The Decemberists! this series of reviews covers the band’s whole discography, from 2003’s 5 Songs EP all the way to 2018’s Travelling On! this review was originally written in September 2021.

we’re taking a look at the next The Decemberists EP today, their 2004 release, The Tain. this 18 minute single-track EP loosely retells the Irish folk epic, Táin Bó Cúailnge:

i’m extremely unfamiliar with the source material here – through some cursory digging this story features a name i recognize, Cu Chulainn, but its just name recognition from other references. The Tain itself is a story about a war over an extremely fertile bull, and the defense of Ulster by Cu Chullainn. Seems neat!

Part 1’s got some sick, chunky and heavy guitar riffs, and matches the kinda expository nature of the segment, and that builds with the rest of the band coming in to some really cool sounds in Part 2. Part 3 brings things back down, and in research this seems to be a bit of a flashback, which makes sense. Part 4’s quiet organ and keyboard, with the subdued vocals before the bridge, are sinister and open up into a more mystical sound with the bridge itself, with the accordion and drums filling out the sound before returning for the second verse. Part 5 brings Meloy back, and brings a lot of Part 1 and 2’s energy back to bear for the stirring finale.

on the whole, this is a really interesting listen, and it def makes me wanna go read the story its based on. maybe i’ll have to go do that soon and come back and see if my review changes at all (i have not done this yet). pacing here ain’t bad – i dig how they’re able to move between the heavier sounds that bookend the EP through the much more subdued Parts 3 and 4. honestly tho, i think its gonna take something like that to bring me back around to this one. i’m interested to see some of the sounds from especially Part 2 show up elsewhere, so we’ll see how much of the experimentation on this bears fruit on future albums.

The Tain EP – 5/10

next time we’re checking out their next LP, Picaresque!

support the band by buying this record on Bandcamp

first: 5 Songs EP | previous: Her Majesty The Decemberists | next: Picaresque

all my reviews for The Decemberists