What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

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What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World.png
Studio album by The Decemberists
Released January 20, 2015 (2015-01-20)
Genre Indie rock, folk rock, indie folk
Length 52:57
Label Capitol (US), Rough Trade (Europe)
Producer Tucker Martine
The Decemberists chronology
The King Is Dead
(2011)The King Is Dead2011
What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
(2015)
I'll Be Your Girl
(2018)I'll Be Your Girl2018
Singles from What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
  1. "Make You Better"
    Released: November 2014
  2. "The Wrong Year"
    Released: April 6, 2015[1]

What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is the seventh studio album from The Decemberists, released on January 20, 2015. The album's title comes from a line in the song "12/17/12", a reference to the date of Barack Obama's speech in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and lead singer Colin Meloy's conflicting feelings about the shooting and his happy personal life.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic77/100[2]
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4/5 stars[3]
The A.V. Club(B)[4]
Consequence of SoundB-[5]
PopMatters8/10[6]
Pitchfork Media5.6/10[7]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[8]
Slant Magazine3.5/5 stars[9]

Critical[edit]

What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World received mostly positive reviews. It currently has a metascore of 77 and user score of 8.1 from Metacritic.[2] The Boston Globe described the album as one of the band's "most enjoyable and lively efforts in recent memory",[10] The New York Times noted that What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World "strikes a note of pop concision and maturity, building on what worked on ‘The King Is Dead.’ Lyrically, there are fewer thistles and minarets and palanquins—and, musically, less digressive excess—than once made up the Decemberists’ trademark style."[11] Jeremy Larson of Pitchfork Media was a detractor, bemoaning the album as "overlong and under-ambitious", though appreciating that listeners "start to see Meloy himself more than ever". Larson also wrote highly of "Make You Better", stating "The band has never lacked the musical bona fides to write a great anthem."[7]

Commercial[edit]

The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 albums chart on its release, selling around 50,000 copies in the United States in its first week. It also debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Rock Albums,[12] and No. 1 on the Folk Albums chart.[13] The album has sold 123,000 copies in the United States as of October 2015.[14]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Colin Meloy.[15]

No.TitleLength
1."The Singer Addresses His Audience"4:42
2."Cavalry Captain"3:17
3."Philomena"3:04
4."Make You Better"5:07
5."Lake Song"5:52
6."Till the Water's All Long Gone"5:01
7."The Wrong Year"3:53
8."Carolina Low"3:24
9."Better Not Wake the Baby"1:44
10."Anti-Summersong"2:12
11."Easy Come, Easy Go"2:22
12."Mistral"3:54
13."12/17/12"3:03
14."A Beginning Song"5:22
Total length:52:57

Personnel[edit]

According to the liner notes of What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.

The Decemberists[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Backup singers
  • Rachel Flotard (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14)
  • Kelly Hogan (tracks 2, 3, 9, 10, 12)
  • Laura Veirs (track 5)
  • Ragen Fykes (tracks 6, 8)
  • Moorea Masa (tracks 6, 8)
  • "The Singer Addresses His Audience" Choir: Kyleen King, Laura Veirs, Allison Hall, Bridgit Jacobson, Carson Ellis, Michael Finn, Jeremy Swatzky, Shelley Short, Steven Watkins, Ritchie Young, Moorea Masa
  • the "Anti-Summersong" Narrator Support Gang: Chris Funk, Nate Query, John Moen, Jason Colton, Tucker Martine
Strings and brass

Production[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2015) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[16] 27
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[17] 122
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[18] 27
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[19] 28
Italian Albums (FIMI)[20] 90
US Billboard 200[21] 7

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Future Releases on Triple A (AAA) Radio Stations". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on March 28, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Reviews for What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World by The Decemberists – Metacritic". Metacritic. January 20, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ Deming, Mark. "The Decemberists-What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World". Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  4. ^ Everhart, John (January 20, 2015). "Inside The Decemberists' beguiling world". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ Flynn, Katherine (January 16, 2015). "The Decemberists: What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  6. ^ Blum, Jordan (January 16, 2015). "The Decemberists: What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World". PopMatters. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Larson, Jeremy (January 19, 2015). "The Decemberists: What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved January 22, 2015. 
  8. ^ Hermes, Will (January 20, 2015). "The Decemberists: What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  9. ^ Winograd, Jeremy (January 15, 2015). "The Decemberists: What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World". Slant Magazine. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  10. ^ "CD Review: The Decemberists, 'What a Beautiful World, What a Terrible World'". The Boston Globe. 
  11. ^ "New Releases From the Decemberists, Hanni El Khatib and Duane Eubanks". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ "Top Rock Albums". Billboard. February 7, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Folk Albums". Billboard. February 7, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Upcoming Releases". Hits Daily Double. HITS Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "ARIA Australian Top 50 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  18. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  19. ^ "Charts.org.nz – The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World". Hung Medien. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  20. ^ "Album – Classifica settimanale WK 4 (dal 19-01-2015 al 25-01-2015)" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  21. ^ "The Decemberists Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved February 5, 2015.