The Decemberists - What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

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‰Û÷What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World‰۪ is The Decemberists‰۪ seventh album. It‰۪s the band‰۪s most varied and dynamic work, both musically and emotionally.

Since their last album, ‰Û÷The King Is Dead‰۪, which went to No.1 in the US, the band have contributed a song to ‰Û÷The Hunger Games‰۪ soundtrack and appeared in ‰Û÷The Simpsons‰۪. Colin Meloy, the band‰۪s frontman, has also been working on the ‰Û÷Wildwood‰۪ series - a narrative saga about two seventh-graders drawn into a hidden, magical forest, illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.
Many songs on the new record represent the more personal side of Colin Meloy‰۪s songwriting, a change from the strong narrative thrust that characterized much of The Decemberists‰۪ work. ‰ÛÏWriting books as this raw, fantastic narrator has been the outlet for that part of my brain,‰۝ he says. ‰ÛÏHaving a family, having kids, having this career, getting older - all of these things have made me look more inward. So some of these songs are among the more intimately personal songs I‰۪ve ever written.‰۝

Perhaps most notable is ‰Û÷12-17-12‰۪, a song named for - and inspired by - the date that President Obama addressed the nation following the Newtown school shootings and read the names of the victims. ‰ÛÏI watched that speech and was hit by a sense of helplessness, but also the message of ‰Û÷Hold your family close.‰۪‰۝ This bewildering, conflicted feeling came out in a phrase near the end of the song - ‰ÛÏwhat a terrible world, what a beautiful world‰۝ - that gave the album its title.

Ultimately, ‰Û÷What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World‰۪ found its final form, a distillation of the best things about this remarkable band. A new way of working led to a renewed excitement about the next chapter for The Decemberists. ‰ÛÏI‰۪ve never lived with a record for so long,‰۝ says Colin Meloy, ‰ÛÏdocumenting my shifts and changes as a songwriter, with a real sense of time passing. And there‰۪s something very freeing about working on music with absolutely no agenda, and just letting the songs become themselves.‰۝