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The Decemberists: Songs Of Love And Murder

The Decemberists' Colin Meloy crafts hyper-literate songs that are rife with vividly drawn characters, historical references and often a body count. The group favors a complex songwriting approach that often incorporates strange and exotic instruments.

As The Decemberists emerged in the early '00s, the band's eccentric pop songs earned it comparisons to Belle and Sebatian and Neutral Milk Hotel, among others. Her Majesty further cemented the group's place in the indie-pop underground, and set the stage for the warm reception that greeted 2005's Picaresque. The Crane Wife, The Decemberists' major-label debut, followed soon afterward. Filled with literate, melodic and charming pop creations, The Crane Wife pleased diehard fans and newcomers alike, and was voted "Best Album of 2006" by NPR listeners.

The Decemberists' members have spent 2009 touring in the wake of The Hazards of Love's release. Released in March, the self-described "folk opera" winds its way through stories of true love, shape-shifting, a forest queen and an angered balladeer. Complete with preludes and interludes, grand prog-rock build-ups and tales of love and murder, it's the group's most adventurous and exhilarating album yet.

This segment originally ran July 24, 2009.

Copyright 2009 XPN