The Decemberists' grand opus, The Crane Wife is such a complete, albeit unconventional record, that taking a single from it would be like deciding which new-born pup to prize from its mother's teat. Difficult in other words. But they've picked a good one with O Valencia! It's strong enough to survive in the big, bad world of singles because it shows what the band do best, putting bleak lyrics to an upbeat, life-affirming melodies.
The deceptive lightness of the track belies Colin Meloy's macabre lyrics; he sings "the blood still warm on the ground" like you or I would sing Mary Had a Little Lamb. Sweet.
The B -sides After the Bombs, and Culling of the Fold are two fine specimens, the former with an ace Billy Preston style organ wig-out that takes you all the way back to that Savile Row rooftop in 1969.