The Crane Wife
Label: Capitol Records
The Decemberists have toned down the parade of sea-faring gents and affected British diction, even if their major label debut is still populated by filigree tales of sparrows and "Shankhill Butchers." But -- as the solid beat of debut single "O Valencia!" makes clear -- they're growing out of the velveteen costumes that once made them the dandiest band in the indie kingdom. With a syncopated bass line and disco backbeat, "The Perfect Crime #2" is nearly funky, and even when the album shanties to a close with "Summersong," it's a far cry from their princely past.