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.

next up, we’re checking out The Decemberists’ 2005 release, Picaresque!

fuck dude they’re kicking this one off REAL strong. The Infanta is a steady, building, swelling, powerful track. love the guitar riff that plays in the choruses, love the steady, rolling drums, this track’s just great. plus like, there’s some darker undercurrents to the lyrics in places but largely its just about a kid being celebrated, and that’s nice. We Both Go Down Together is pretty catchy, and i love the strings in it. damn those lyrics are dark as hell, lol. Eli, the Barrow Boy reminds me a lot of Leslie Anne Levinne – both about ghosts of folks whose lives were unjust. i’m always down for narratives that are haunted by the tragedies and injustice of their times, quite literally. love the upbeat style of The Sporting Life, this song’s a fucking jam. the difference between verse and chorus in The Bagman’s Gambit is really… sharp. the ebb and flow of the music matches the narrator’s relationship to the spy, but the lower, quiet points are SO much more empty than the choruses that it doesn’t always feel well connected. i don’t think it breaks the song, but it was something i kept thinking about each time i listened to it. plus, the bridge is neat, with the violin building and building to cacophony, and i really like the story being told. not huge on From My Own True Love (Lost At Sea). even after all these listens im not 100% sure what it is, its just not for me. 16 Military Wives is a nice almost bandstandy track, plus its got some solid lyrics to it. The Engine Driver is a good track too. the kind of plea for release or satisfaction is extremely well delivered here. i esp like the line “And I’ve written pages upon pages // Trying to rid you from my bones” it’s good. On the Bus Mall is extremely sweet and sad. what a nice track. The Mariner’s Revenge Song is p fucking metal. liked this track a lot, and i love the bookended story, how it comes back and there’s that sense of dreaded satisfaction. i love that the ending has the instruments match the mother’s request, but with a fuller and more present tone, as though what were just ghostly words were manifesting as the mariner does exactly as his mom requested. quite good. Of Angels and Angles is a nice sweet little outro track.

faves – The Infanta, The Sporting Life, 16 Military Wives, The Mariner’s Revenge Song
dislikes –

dug this album a LOT. lotta bangers on here, and some really nice lyrical turns and themes explored. honestly dont have a ton more to say about it, haha. i think there is a song or two on the previous records that i like more than songs on this one, but as a collected record i think this one’s an excellent package.

Picaresque – 7/10

first: 5 Songs EP | previous: The Tain EP | next: Picaresque

all my reviews for The Decemberists