Picaresque (album)

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Studio album by The Decemberists
Released March 22, 2005 (US)
Recorded August 2004–September 2004
Genre Indie rock, folk rock
Length 53:07
Label Kill Rock Stars
Producer The Decemberists, Chris Walla
The Decemberists chronology
Her Majesty the Decemberists
The Crane Wife

Picaresque is the third studio album from The Decemberists. It was released in 2005 on the Kill Rock Stars record label.


The word "picaresque" is taken from a form of satirical prose originating in Spain, depicting realistically and often humorously the adventures of a low-born, roguish hero living by his or her wits in a corrupt society.[1]


The album was recorded at the Prescott Church in northeast Portland, which the band rented for one month in the summer of 2004. To facilitate the creative process and avoid creative block, band members filled a used bike helmet with slips of paper listing strategies and ideas to try out. Non-traditional rock instruments used in the album's recording included an accordion and a hurdy-gurdy. The album was produced by Chris Walla, also the guitarist for the band Death Cab for Cutie.[2]


The album includes the track "Sixteen Military Wives", the music video of which was distributed by the band via BitTorrent.[3] The double vinyl version was released with an EP of outtakes as a final release for Kill Rock Stars. This EP was named Picaresqueties. In the UK, a single vinyl version was released on Rough Trade without the Picaresqueties EP.[citation needed] The Mad Men episode "Maidenform" opened with a montage set to a segment of the song "The Infanta".[4]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 81/100[5]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[6]
Blender 4/5 stars[7]
Drowned in Sound (8/10)[8]
Music Emissions (3/5)[9]
Pitchfork Media (8.3/10)[10]
PopMatters (9/10)[11]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[12]
Stylus B+[13]
Tiny Mix Tapes (5/5)[14]

Picaresque has a rating of 81/100 on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim." The album reached number 5 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and number 128 on the Billboard 200.[15] Pitchfork Media placed Picaresque at number 143 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s.[16]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Colin Meloy.

No. Title Length
1. "The Infanta"   5:08
2. "We Both Go Down Together"   3:04
3. "Eli, the Barrow Boy"   3:11
4. "The Sporting Life"   4:38
5. "The Bagman's Gambit"   7:02
6. "From My Own True Love (Lost at Sea)"   3:42
7. "16 Military Wives"   4:53
8. "The Engine Driver"   4:15
9. "On the Bus Mall"   6:04
10. "The Mariner's Revenge Song"   8:46
11. "Of Angels and Angles"   2:28
Total length:


  1. ^ "Picaresque". Wikipedia. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Nelson, Sean (March 17, 2005). "The Fabulist Sounds of the Pacific Northwest". The Stranger. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ Katie Dean (September 2, 2008). "Rockers Flex BitTorrent's Muscle". Wired.com. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ Lindsay Robertson (23 March 2005). "That Decemberists Montage from Mad Men Everyone's Talking About". Videogum. Buzzmedia Entertainment. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/music/picaresque/the-decemberists
  6. ^ AllMusic review
  7. ^ Blender review
  8. ^ Drowned in Sound review
  9. ^ Music Emissions review
  10. ^ Pitchfork Media review
  11. ^ PopMatters review
  12. ^ Rolling Stone review
  13. ^ Stylus review
  14. ^ Tiny Mix Tapes review
  15. ^ "Picaresque - The Decemberists". Billboard.com. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  16. ^ Pitchfork staff (September 28, 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 200-151". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved October 1, 2009. 

External links[edit]