Is it fair to review an EP that, by a band’s own admission, is comprised of songs that didn’t make it on to the full-length preceding it? One might think not since, as is the case with The Decemberists‘ Florasongs, it almost feels like a clandestine acknowledgement that these tracks just aren’t good enough. Then again, they’re being presented to the world as a separate collection, so guess which side of fair we fell on.
The thing with The Decemberists, however, is that even their cast-offs sounds like gold. “Have I ever lost your way?” sings Colin Meloy in his trademark cadence on Why Would I Now?, descending into a alt-country jam that seems like a glaring omission from their decent LP. Riverswim is as stunning as any of their balladry – “surround us, oh drown us” is an ache and a half – gently littered with all the instrumentation that still very much makes it a Decemberists record. It’s also, funnily enough, one of their most wonderful moments to date.
Fits & Starts is a bit more a departure, a rollicking rock’n’roll number to get you on the floor of a blues bar. It’s perfectly sandwiched between Riverswim and the gentle sway of The Harrowed and The Haunted, the whole EP culminating in the sparse Stateside, which flicks guitar at an expansive, echoing canvas. In five songs, The Decemberists traverse more of the fertile ground from their last record, making these Florasongs more than just self-indulgent decoration.
Florasongs by The Decemberists can be ordered here.