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New Music

The Decemberists – “Once in My Life”

BYRON BAY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27: Colin Meloy of The Decemberists performs live for fans at the 2016 Byron Bay Bluesfest on March 27, 2016 in Byron Bay, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Decemberists released “Severed”–the first single from their upcoming album I’ll Be Your Girl–in January, in all its motoric, arpeggiated, The-Faint-adjacent glory. Bandleader Colin Meloy said then of the new record: “The songs tend to the darker, more absurdist side of things I mean, how can you blame us and features a lot of nice vintage synth work.”

So a Trump-era synth pop album from The Decemberists? At first, the newest single from the record, “Once in My Life,” fools you into thinking they overstated the point, opening with a boisterous open guitar strum befitting a Mumford and Sons or Hootie and the Blowfish tune. A tambourine comes in; Meloy carries off a country melisma in the prechorus.

Ah, but wait: a Cure synth lead, when the band drops in? When the electric guitar begins to chug, one wonders if they were literally trying to emulate the direct feel of “Pictures of You.” The amalgamation of styles is a strange one for the band, but it’s not as bad as it could be, and is certainly a nagging kind of earworm. I’ll Be Your Girl comes out a week from today (March 16) on Capitol. Listen to “Once in My Life” below.