With a new album, I'll Be Your Girl, due on March 16, and a major tour about to begin (read more about that here), The Decemberists have been giving hints about what to expect on record and on stage with the release of a second track from the album.
After teasing the new project with a lead single, “Severed,” in January, Portland's beloved musical troupe have released a video for the opening track, "Once In My Life," a synth-powered folk-rocker that shows the band breaking out of its comfort zone. The tune begins in classic Decemberists style, with singer/songwriter Colin Meloy's distinctive, plaintive voice over the strum of an acoustic guitar. But then, as the song keeps building over its 5:10 running time, the fairly simple lyrics repeat over ever-escalating keyboards and a chorale of voices push the band's sound to new emotional and sonic heights.
While longtime Decemberists fans may be nervous to hear that synthesizers have entered the band's musical arsenal, alongside accordion and upright bass, there are other titles on the upcoming album, like "Everything Is Awful," "Sucker's Prayer," and especially "Rusalka, Rusalka/The Wild Rushes," that have a reassuring put-a-bird-on-it Decemberists vibe.
I'll Be Your Girl is the band's first full-length studio recording since 2015’s What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, but that isn't to say the group has been slacking in the time elapsed. Among the projects that have appeared in the interim are an EP (florasongs); a vinyl box celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2006 Capitol Records debut, The Crane Wife; a crowdfunded board game (Illimat): a GRAMMY-nominated collaboration (The Queen of Hearts), recorded with Olivia Chaney under the name Offa Rex; and, most recently, the very funny and very NSFW single, “Ben Franklin’s Song,” created with Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.
As a band that's been together for 17 years, The Decemberists decided to shake up their most recent recording sessions by moving into a new studio with a new producer and trying new approaches, nodding to influences like Roxy Music, New Order and Depeche Mode. In another bow to retro cool, I'll Be Your Girl will be made available in a special "exploded edition," that presents all 11 album tracks plus exclusive tracks from the album sessions on eight 7” vinyl records, each a different color, along with a cardstock book with slide-out record jacket pockets, full-color art and engineered pop-up elements, and a color booklet signed by the band, all in a chipboard slipcase.