For a period of about six or seven years, Portland-based indie outfit The Decemberists were among my very favorite bands. They released a string of near-perfect records during this stretch — 2002’s “Castaways and Cutouts,” 2003’s “Her Majesty,” 2005’s “Picaresque,” 2006’s “The Crane Wife” and 2009’s “The Hazards of Love” — that I still revisit regularly and I sung the band’s praises whenever I had the opportunity.
After 2011’s excellent “The King Is Dead,” however, The Decemberists went on hiatus, effectively slowing their decade-long march up the career ladder. It would take four long years for the Colin Meloy-fronted outfit to return to the studio and the result was January’s “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.” It’s a solid entry on the band’s discography, if not one of their all-time great releases.
Any new music from The Decemberists is a plus in my book, which makes latest EP “Florasongs” a must-have for the band’s fans. The five-track slab features B-sides from the “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World” sessions and, as you might expect, is a somewhat mixed bag. Opener “Why Would I Now” is terrifc, as are “Riverswim” and “The Harrowed and the Haunted.” Slightly less effective are “Fits and Starts” and “Stateside,” but it’s great to have The Decemberists back. (Jeffrey Sisk)