“I’ll Be Your Girl”
BOTTOM LINE Struggling with their old sound after embracing a new one.
When bands talk about shaking things up — the way The Decemberists did to announce their new album “I’ll Be Your Girl” (Capitol) — it’s usually bad news.
However, Colin Meloy and friends don’t fall into the expected trap of not taking enough chances to make the shake-up sound good. Actually, the New Order synth-pop of the first single “Severed” is right on target, as is the fuzzed-out glam rock of “We All Die Young,” which sounds like it could be the sequel to “Spirit in the Sky.” And the playful “Everything Is Awful,” with its mix of sweetness and bash-it-out rage, feels like it could be an anthem for 2018.
The problem on “I’ll Be Your Girl” is that the more traditional-sounding Decemberists songs seem to be lacking. Suddenly, the archaic phrasing of “Cutting Stone” sounds even more gimmicky when paired with synthesizer runs. The galloping “Your Ghost” feels half-finished, especially when compared to the gorgeous “Sucker’s Prayer,” which conjures up The Band at its best.
Maybe The Decemberists should let go of their own brand of Americana and chase the new influences they seem to find so interesting.