Buoyed by a fresh coat of synths and a streamlined energy, the Decemberists’ latest is a curious middle-of-the-road album, teasing a number of directions without committing to any of them.
Plenty of Decemberists fans have aged into parenthood, and it’s really not hard to imagine a future where like They Might Be Giants, another favorite of the “Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me!” set, they begin recording kids albums. Judging from I’ll Be Your Girl, they’d probably be great at it. But the fact that they’ve basically sandwiched a couple of kids tunes into the same album as a suite about a killer sex mermaid only highlights how confused and directionless this band is right now. Where they once specialized in meticulously plotted albums, now they mostly seem to be winging it. They’re still making some alluring music, yet their albums have never sounded more disjointed.