Picaresque - The Decemberists
Picaresque Image

Universal acclaim - based on 32 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 114 Ratings

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  • Summary: Chris Walla produced this third album for the literary Portland, Ore.-based five-piece led by Colin Meloy.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. For fans of chiming, literate, lovelorn pop, Picaresque is an absolute treasure trove.
  2. This is The Decemberists' strongest release to date, and proves that the group's unique thesaurus-rock has a bright future.
  3. While Picaresque is a significant step forward, it’s also a logical one. The band’s sonic palette has expanded gradually from album to album, and appears to have come full circle here.
  4. The Decemberists’ first two records—Castaways and Cutouts and Her Majesty (both in 2003)—felt a touch spotty.... Picaresque trumps them both by dint of its focus, consistency and restraint.
  5. 80
    Gleams with emotion. [Apr 2005, p.113]
  6. Where 2003's Her Majesty the Decemberists unfurled tales of royalty, and debut Castaways and Cutouts talked of the sea, Picaresque drafts a whole new cast of characters just as colorful.
  7. Over rudimentary, skiffle-derived hooks, a kitchen-sink orchestra creates an aura of portent. Then in steps Meloy, doping up the whole affair with empty melancholy until it has to breathe through a tube, wailing big words in a forced accent that conveys despair but fails to signify its cause, fails to signify anything.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 53 out of 59
  2. Negative: 4 out of 59
  1. Dec 21, 2011
    One of the best Decemberists albums. They pick up from the more melodic previous two albums with the rocking opener "The Infanta" and it doesn't slow down from there. From that point we get some awesome tracks like the anthemic "We Both Go Down Together", the quirky "Sporting Life", the trumpet-coated "16 Military Wives", the groovy "Engine Driver", and the engaging sea shanty "Mariner's Revenge Song", which is also quite possibly the best song on the album. No matter what genre you're into, if you want to check out a truly remarkable album, "Picaresque" won't disappoint or bore you for a second. Expand
  2. Frank
    Apr 23, 2005
    Quirky, funky and catchy - just perfect music for a leg of a daily commute or time to enjoy on a weekend. Never heard of them before "16 Military Wives" got serious airplay on local KNRK, and had to get the cd, the song stuck in my brain too well, deep lyrics and a catchy rhythm. Even better is that they are local to my adopted city, so hopefully I can catch a show someday. Expand
  3. AlexS
    Jan 1, 2006
    this is by far the greatest album of 2005. I have no idea how you can dislike this music. And stop comparing it to neutral milk hotel, they are completley diffrent. definite 10/10 it doesnt compare to castaways and cutouts, but C&C was one of the greatest cds ever. Expand
  4. ChristopherB
    Mar 25, 2005
    An awesome follow up -- the sound is even bigger and fuller. The musicianship of The Decemberists is incredible. Awesome lyrics too. Once more, I'm impressed with this band and I can't wait to see them live again. Expand
  5. RichardL
    Aug 21, 2005
    A logical continuation to the style being developed by the Decemberists. The songs retain the flavor of the previous albums, adding more and more elaborate and distinctive instrumentation. Expand
  6. AndyW
    Apr 28, 2005
    This is the first Decemberists album I've purchased so I heard very little before this one. To me they have a refreshing sound in an indie market that's been incredibly boring for a while now. Expand
  7. Jake
    Mar 23, 2005
    no....No.....NO!!!!!!!!! Someone needs to put this bleating donkey and his insufferable band of assorted a-ses out of their misery....

See all 59 User Reviews