The Decemberists, Her Majesty The Decemberists
There are far too many reasons to adore the Decemberists: for their sharp, evocative storytelling, for their stunning and ambitious song arrangements, for their impossibly catchy hooks. But the one that leaves the rest in the dust is their unshakable, wry humor, which sits squarely in the heart of Her Majesty the Decemberists. As much as lead singer Colin Meloy may invoke the seemingly sincere images of shipwrecks and sailors' ghosts ("Shanty for the Arethusa") or the melancholy of a thrilling, but doomed, affair ("The Bachelor and the Bride"), he'll never demure from throwing in a really good joke, as in "Los Angeles, I'm Yours," a poison-pen letter to the city, where he sings, "A plaintive melody/ Truncated symphony/ An ocean's garbled vomit on the shore/ Los Angeles, I'm yours." It's obvious Meloy scored well on his vocabulary tests, but it's the way he flexes his knowledge that makes Her Majesty the Decemberists easily one of the finest releases of 2003.