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Aural Pleasure Review

The Decemberists: 'We All Raise Our Voices to the Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11)'

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Musically and commercially the Decemberists are in an ideal position to take full advantage of the live album's ability to showcase (prove?) unique talent and the staying power of individual songs. And what songs these are. When set next to one another in this way, you can finally solidify your suspicions that they all take place in an Americanized version of a world somewhere between Charles Dickens' novels and Hieronymous Bosch's paintings. Old favorites like the tragic chamber-folksy shuffler "Leslie Anne Levine," brother-loving war shanty "The Soldiering Life," and strumming stomping rallying cry "The Infanta" are delivered with loose perfection and unbridled earnestness. Newer songs like the callously vicious thrasher "The Rake's Song," the springy country toe-tapper "Down by the Water," and the hopeful bluesy twirler "All Arise!" make strong arguments for placement among the band's growing catalog of timeless popular songs. Live albums can be dubious territory, especially for an indie band, but in this case the live format has made for a cheeky and dramatic document of one of our finest groups at the apex of their ability to command their own hearts and dexterities.

★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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