Much fuss has been made about Colin Meloy's penchant for unlikely lyrical themes and clever wordplay. Here - as ever - he delivers, but the listener will realize above all with this collection that The Decemberists are simply a top-notch pop ensemble. This exuberant disc belies its title with an actual count of six exclusive songs (finally the crowd pleasing Apology Song has a fitting home).
5 songs is the essential springtime mix. Dispensing with the occasional macabre (delightfully macabre, that is) narratives of Castaways and Cutouts, 5 Songs collects the feel good'ns. The centerpiece may be Meloy's tallest tale set to music yet: My Mother Was A Chinese Trapeze Artist is a fantastic autobiography with the kind of detail and flight of fancy that you would expect from film director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tennenbaums). The two share an exotic sense of humor - character driven and born of earnestness - that is nothing short of dazzling.
The songs are bright, buoyant and devastatingly POP. This is the CD that you won't want to take out of your car deck. It will have you rolling down your window, slowing down to take in the sights, waving on pedestrians at stop signs, and circling the block at your destination to finish out the song.