THE DECEMBERISTS are a band from Portland, Oregon, fronted by singer/songwriter Colin Meloy. This particular song is a good testing ground to see if your ear and this band might get along. It begins with an optimistic guitar/organ combo joined by fashionably late drums, carrying an addictive rhythm throughout. The chord progression seems like something THE BEATLES might have tinkered with towards the end of their time together. Heavy brass fills out this catchy tune, taking over at the end, resulting in a ditty that will bounce around in your head all day long.
This band is distinct primarily for its subject matter. Like THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS, they seek out obscure subject matter, fearless of any repercussions toward their popularity. Case in point, the band’s name alludes to a minor Russian revolution in 1825. One might think of this group as TMBG’s more serious brother—humor is at the most dry and sarcastic.
The tune “16 Military Wives” is lyrically strong and just vague enough to give the listener several meals of food for thought. Here’s one of the most memorable verses: “Fifteen celebrity minds / Leading their fifteen sordid wretched checkered lives / Will they find the solution in time / Using their fifteen pristine moderate liberal minds?” The chorus is cryptic and yet somehow meaningful. “And the anchorperson on TV goes...La de da de da.”
Warning: Crude references occasionally surface in other songs. Be selective.
Conclusion: If PAUL McCARTNEY went to band camp with THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS and then they heard a news report about the war on the way home, this is the song they would have written.