Tag: What a Terrible World

Revisiting The Decemberists’ “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World”

Driving back to Nashville from Lafayette, Indiana this weekend, I decided to revisit the Decemberists’ entire discography on the way down, to listen to each record and then to rank them in a hierarchy. The result was a list ordered as such:

  1. Picaresque (2005)
  2. Castaways and Cutouts (2002)
  3. The Hazards of Love (2009)
  4. The King is Dead (2011)
  5. The Crane Wife (2006)
  6. Her Majesty the Decemberists (2003)
  7. What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (2015)

You may notice that their most recent release, What a Terrible World, is at the bottom. What you can’t see is how strikingly large the gap between albums six and seven actually is. Make no mistake — WATW is still a decent album by any standard. But it does stand as the Decemberists’ biggest disappointment, especially given the bands remarkable consistency and excellence. I want to reexamine What a Terrible World a year after its release, unpack its problems, and see if they can be fixed.