Connor’s Coffee Shop: The Decemberists Music Review


Welcome, welcome faithful readers to my humble music review. Today we will be looking at one of the best folk albums of the early 2000s, as this year will mark its 20th anniversary.

The album I will be reviewing today is:

Her Majesty – The Decemberists

Her Majesty

Really quick comment on the name of this album: technically the entire name of the album is “Her Majesty The Decemberists,” but most people, and occasionally discography websites, will refer to it as just simply “Her Majesty,” as I will.

The Decemberists are certainly a unique band. The entire band uses uncommon instruments that aren’t really found in modern-day music. They are most known for their use of the accordion throughout their songs, however they have used instruments like the mandolin or the steel guitar (which is used often in folk music, but it is still rather uncommon). The lead singer and front man Colin Meloy is known for his narrative and poetic writing style. Most of his songs are telling stories. They set scenes, they have plots, and they use some incredible imagery. Lyrically you cannot really pinpoint what this album means, as it’s almost a story book that tells different tall tales about different people. Whether the song is about the strong brotherhood-esque bond between soldiers, the novelist Myla Goldberg, or just how awful Meloy thinks Los Angeles is, he manages to tell an impressive tale while still making it a catchy song.


The Decemberists; Colin Meloy standing in the middle.

The Decemberists have been popular in the folk scene of the early 2000s. Their most famous album, “The Crane Wife,” has sold more than 300,000 copies. “Her Majesty”, however, was not as popular, only selling about 40,000 copies. While I think that “The Crane Wife” is a fantastic album, I think that a lot of the other albums, especially “Her Majesty,” are overlooked masterpieces. Colin Meloy, as previously mentioned, is the front man of The Decemberists. He has written a multitude of books, including the children’s book series “Wildwood.”

“Her Majesty” paints a picture that is definitely clearer when you look at the art on the album cover, which was drawn by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis. On the album cover, we see three soldiers huddled in a trench. This almost directly serves the song “The Soldiering Life,” but focuses on the other comments about war on this album. The song “The Gymnast, High Above the Ground” is a 7-minute long masterpiece about a love that could never be. The song “The Chimbley Sweep” is a dark, yet humorous, song about a young orphaned boy who lives in squalor and sweeps chimneys, but is too young and innocent to understand that he is living in squalor. And of course, “Red Right Ankle,” which is an INCREDIBLY detailed song that compares a breakup with a damaged ankle.



Vocals: 7/10

Colin Meloy’s voice isn’t exactly anything to write home about, but he certainly adds a lot of emotions into his voice, which lets him get in character

Guitar: 7/10

The guitar on this album is relatively simple. That isn’t to say that this band doesn’t have a great guitarist. The Decemberists’ guitarist, Chris Funk, has added some incredible guitar riffs on the later albums. But this is one of their more folky albums, and folk doesn’t require a lot of complex guitar.

Bass: 8/10

There is a lot of upright bass on this album. Nate Query is an incredible bassist who can write an incredible bass line for just about any song.

Drums: 8/10

There aren’t a lot of drums on this album. Despite this, there are some great drum tracks here, along with other percussion instruments.

Other: 9/10

I wanted to add this section specifically for this album. This is because they tend to use a lot of uncommon instruments in their music. I just wanted to highlight the accordion on this album. It is most of their discography, but it seems to never get old.

Lyrics: 10/10

Colin Meloy is a beautiful lyricist. He is renowned in the folk community for the way that he seamlessly fits himself into his own music, despite it being about other things.

Uniqueness: 8/10

All of the songs on this album are unique in their own way, while still keeping that folky feel to it.


Overall Score: 8/10

This is definitely a fantastic album that is relatively unknown in their discography. It is very much worth the listen.

By the way, you can request albums for me to review. If you have an album for me to review, just leave the name of it in the comments and I will write a review.