The Decemberists Albums Ranked

The Decemberists are an American indie rock band from Portland, Oregon. The band consists of Colin Meloy (lead vocals, guitar, principal songwriter), Chris Funk (guitar, multi-instrumentalist), Jenny Conlee (piano, keyboards, accordion), Nate Query (bass), and John Moen (drums). Their debut EP, 5 Songs, was self-released in 2001. Their eighth and latest full-length album I’ll Be Your Girl was released on March 16, 2018, by Capitol Records, and is the band’s fifth record with the label. In addition to their lyrics, which often focus on historical incidents and/or folklore, The Decemberists are also well known for their eclectic live shows. Audience participation is a part of each performance, typically during encores. The band stages whimsical reenactments of sea battles and other centuries-old events, typically of regional interest, or acts out songs with members of the crowd. In 2011, the track “Down by the Water” from the album The King Is Dead was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 54th Grammy Awards. Here are all of The Decemberists albums ranked.

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10. 5 Songs, 2001

The Decemberists: 5 Songs EP Album Review | Pitchfork

“The sparkling debut of The Decemberists, but only an appetiser to their future, more epic albums. Still, this tightly executed, swaying set is worthy of attention. The inauspicious opener, “Oceanside”, introduces Meloy’s nasal whine and canters to the typical sway of Jenny Conlee’s accordion, swishing drumming and plodding guitar strum. I’d suppose new listeners would either stop right here, or plough on into the lair to be transfixed”

9. The Tain / 5 Songs, 2004

The Decemberists TAIN / 5 SONGS Vinyl Record

“Epic folk balladry, but in the manner of Black Sabbath (If you look at it, everything boils down to Sabbath in the end) which is the perfect place for Meloy’s minor-key vocal thang. Play it fuckin’ loud, then turn it down, then loud again towards the end.”

8. I’ll Be Your Girl, 2018

The Decemberists: I'll Be Your Girl Album Review | Pitchfork

“Initially, I wasn’t as impressed with this Decemberists album as I had been with many of their other releases. But, after I’d listened to it a few times, I found that the harmonies and many of the songs seemed to quite often pop into my mind, and I began to realize that the album is actually really good. So, if you like this band, and think that this record is possibly sub-par for the group, I’d recommend a few more listens.”

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7. What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, 2015

What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World - Album by The Decemberists |  Spotify

“Great addition to Decembrists discog. not pushing any boundaries, but the songwriting is undeniable. The singer addresses his audience’ is a great opener and a fantastic messages to the fans. Not as experimental as they once were, but the Decembrists are still an extremely capable force in indie/folk.”

6. Her Majesty The Decemberists, 2003

The Decemberists – Her Majesty (2003, CD) - Discogs

“The insouciant attitudes on this album set it apart from its contemporaries. Most of the songs tell mostly positive stories of otherwise bland and terrible things, namely “Los Angeles, I’m Yours,” about lovingly embracing the oddities and piteous downsides of the city; “The Soldiering Life” preaches companionship in the times of war; “I Was Meant For the Stage,” one of the most strangely beautiful songs I’ve heard come out of the past five year span of music, narrates the endurance of mockery and judgment while following your humble dreams that will never be monetarily rewarding, but are the medicine for your spirit. This is the happy Decemberists album, aye-em-oh.”

5. Castaways And Cutouts, 2002

Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect | The Decemberists

“‘Castaways and Cutouts’ offers the same quality as I have heard elsewhere. Perhaps there are some rather bland / tame tracks towards the middle of the album, but here also we have some of the best Decemberists songs I have heard to date, which in my view makes this album an essential item of any collection.”

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4. The Hazards Of Love, 2009

The Decemberists – The Hazards Of Love (2009, Vinyl) - Discogs

“Good album by a great band. Lots of varied instrumentation, unconventional melodies, and the use of motif adds a nice, slightly epic touch, leaving “The Hazards of Love” sounding not entirely indie and not entirely progressive, but like something greater than the sum of its parts.”

3. The King Is Dead, 2011

Music Review: The Decemberists, 'The King Is Dead' : NPR

“‘The King Is Dead’ was the first Decemberists album I bought at the time of release. So far I have enjoyed their earlier albums particularly ‘The Crane Wife’ and ‘The Hazards Of Love’ and I see that longer term admirers have sighed collected relief that this new album is not a concept album, but rather a short collection of pretty concise songs.”

2. Picaresque, 2005

The Decemberists – Picaresque (2005, Vinyl) - Discogs

“This is my favourite The Decemberists record. Even though the band grew musically afterwards, producing The Crane Wife and Hazards of Love (which are brilliant records in their own right), it’s their third record that is the closest to my heart. It’s deep, it’s complex and it’s rich. It is their magnum opus in my opinion.”

1. The Crane Wife, 2006

Decemberists, The - The Crane Wife 10th Anniversary Deluxe Box - Vinyl 5LP  - 2016 - EU - Original | HHV

“While this album is needlessly prog-y and way too pretentious, it still manages to be extremely endearing. The Decemberists just kind of strike me as a band that’s impossible to hate. Colin Meloy is just too good of a songwriter to despise, even if he does get in over his head sometimes. This album is tons of fun.”