There's the saying, "what goes around comes around", and nowhere does this statement hold more truth than in music, though with a caveat. It's not karma moving in a circular pattern, as the old statement implies, but musical trends and styles.
The 80s brought with it, amongst other things, electronic sensibilities in music, and between new wave, disco, and a burgeoning sound that would become what we know as pop music today, synthesizers were all the rage. And then as fast as they came on synthesizers faded out, being replaced first by grunge and then by an indie-alternative sound that simultaneously took influence primarily from Brit-pop and folk sounds. Chief among those indie-folk bands making a name for themselves in the early-to-mid aughts were The Decemberists
. Hailing from Portland, the cool one in Oregon not the colder one in Maine, The Decemberists were all that you could imagine an indie band to be -- hip, twee, and playing instruments that were decisively not synthesizers. Yet as I said earlier, what goes around comes around, and with their newest track released today, The Decemberists seem to be emulating the electronic forefathers of yesteryears.
The group has announced their eighth studio album, titled I'll Be Your Girl
, and with it have released the first single from it, "Severed". The track immediately opens with some retro-wave inspiration, a fuzzy synth line and rolling bass, over which a Top Gun-era guitar riffs dramatically. It's a drastically different sound for a band that once wrote a nearly nine minute accordion epic about a fisherman, but it's a change that's part of a larger trend. The indie rock that we consumed in 2006 has had to adapt or die, and for better or for worse indie-electronic/pop-rock or whatever you wish to call it is the way forward. Franz Ferdinand
seems to be taking the approach in "Feel The Love Go", and now The Decemberists are following suit.
"Severed" is decisively different from anything you've heard them release before, so I'll leave it up to the listener to decide whether or not that's a good or bad thing. Either way, it's a sign of the changing the times, and a sign that The Decemberists are hip to it.
I'll Be Your Girl
is out March 16 via Capitol Records.