The Decemberists have released their seventh album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. It’s getting tepid reviews. Pitchfork describes it as “a charming but predictable album aimed at the faithful, but provides few if any new tracks that measure up to those in their back catalog.” The Decemberists are admired by “bookish fans” who enjoy Irish mythology and a healthy vocabulary. Words like prevaricate, sibylline and eidolon can slip into a song, as well as literary references to Tennyson and Hawthorne. There is some of that in Terrible/Beautiful, but “everything feels a little paler and undercooked.”
A.V. Club agrees Terrible/Beautiful “may not be their greatest triumph” but it “gets better with each listen.” The most emotional song on the album is “12/17/12” – a response to the killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, hence, the title of the album.