The Decemberists: Alicia J. Rose
Michael Small
March 21, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Colin Meloy is so darn brilliant. On his Oregon group the Decemberists’ third album, Picaresque, the singer’s lyrics skip across history, from an ancient coronation to a Cold War spy story, and overflow with mellifluous rhymes (”the duchess’ luscious young girls…”). Though the music is equally eclectic, ”Sixteen Military Wives,” a wry satire of the Iraq invasion and the Oscars, is pure pop at its most winning. It should finally get the band airplay — or at least a MacArthur.

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