Think Fairport meets Radiohead, with a toke of Yes

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The Decemberists – The Crane Wife

Perhaps the most literate of the current crop of four-eyed front-geeks, Colin Meloy enjoys applying his wry wit to arcane subject matter, like the Japanese folk tale from which he’s derived The Crane Wife’s three-part title suite.

The Oregon band’s fourth full-length, a real grower, finds Meloy and his muscle – guitarist (etc) Chris Funk, who pulverises tweeness in a stroke, and a drummer named Moon (first name John) – twisting the esoteric into arresting and complex new shapes.

The immediate grabber is “The Perfect Crime #2”, a gleeful rave-up that picks up where “Life During Wartime” left off, adding liberal doses of irony-free high-hat and cowbells.

BUD SCOPPA