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The Decemberists

"One Engine"

[Universal Republic; 2012]

By ; February 14, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Following in the footsteps of Twilight with an indie-centric soundtrack to coincide with their big screen adaptation of a popular teeny-bopper book series is The Hunger Games. The soundtrack will feature new tunes from beloved names like Arcade Fire and Neko Case, as well as less known but equally enjoyed bands like The Civil Wars and The Low Anthem. Confusing things is the inclusion of multiple tracks by Taylor Swift, a song by Kid Cudi, and a track by Miranda Lambert. Finding a home somewhere in this muddled tracklisting is a new song from The Decemberists, a band that apparently doesn’t really understand the meaning of “hiatus.”

As with most soundtracks and compilations, the listener is never quite sure whether they are getting an inspired bit of original recording solely for the film or a leftover scrap of middling material delivered for a small amount of between-album press. The Decemberists are so comfortable in their career at this point that either one of these scenarios would be likely to produce a track like “One Engine”; a propulsive and loose number that seems to take its aesthetic from its title, could have conceivably been recorded in a single take, and tried to cultivate its charm from its sloppiness.

Much like their recent Long Live The King EP, the song occupies the strange space of being enjoyable while seeming completely unnecessary. And, while we might have hoped that the band would adhere to the break that they vocally announced near the end of last year, their audience is still left wanting The Decemberists to regroup, to sound inspired once again, because the more music the band releases in this state, the more average their legacy appears.


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