[-[[caption-width-right:302:Left to right: Nate, John, Colin, Jenny, and Chris.]]-]

->''We are two mariners,''\\
''Our ships' sole survivors,''\\
''In this belly of a whale.''\\
''Its ribs are ceiling beams,''\\
''Its guts are carpeting,''\\
''I guess we have some time to kill.''
-->-- "The Mariner's Revenge Song"

Most bands write songs about [[SillyLoveSongs How Much I Love You Babe]], songs that go verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus with nice [[ThreeChordsAndTheTruth regular chord structures]], maybe throw in a neat guitar solo in the middle and a fade-out ending, [[WebAnimation/HomestarRunner you know, something like that]].

Most bands are not the Decemberists.

Colin Meloy, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, and John Moen form the band's current rotation, with Meloy, Funk and Conlee being the only original members remaining in the band (the band's best known former member is drummer/vocalist Rachel Blumberg who was a member of the band between ''Her Majesty'' and ''Picaresque''). The songs, penned and sung by Meloy, vary from quirky, introspective pop about filicide to rollicking ballads about pirates and gypsies. (There is a disproportionate amount of drowning.) Meloy often employs the narrative form, creating baroque tales from the perspective of lovers, soldiers, and sailors.

* 2001 - ''5 Songs'' EP
* 2002 - ''Castaways and Cutouts''
* 2003 - ''Her Majesty''
* 2004 - ''The Tain'' EP (based on the Irish story ''Literature/TainBoCuailnge'' or ''Cattle Raid of Cooley'')
* 2005 - ''Picaresque''
* 2005 - ''Picaresqueties'' EP
* 2006 - ''The Crane Wife'': Humorously called "The best Music/JethroTull album since ''Heavy Horses''".
* 2008 - ''Always The Bridesmaid'' singles series
* 2009 - ''The Hazards of Love''
* 2011 - ''The King Is Dead''
* 2015 - ''What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World''
* 2015 - ''Florasongs'' EP (Songs that didn't make the cut for the previous album)
* 2018 - ''I'll Be Your Girl''

As of 2011, Colin Meloy has added novel writer to his list of accomplishments, having written the young adult novel ''WILDWOOD'' and its sequels, '' Under WILDWOOD'' and ''WILDWOOD Imperium''. In February 2017, Colin announced a new book tilted ''The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid'' set to be released October the same year. The band also appeared live with Wilco and Letters to Cleo in the sixth season finale of ''Series/ParksAndRecreation''. The band also performed the first of ''Music/TheHamildrops," "Ben Franklin's Song," which was released in December 2017.

!!They provide examples of:

* ADateWithRosiePalms: "Billy Liar." "Decked by a Japanese geisha with a garland of pearls," indeed...
* AfterTheEnd: "Calamity Song."
* AlbumIntroTrack: ''Prelude''
* AlbumTitleDrop: "California One[=/=]Youth and Beauty Brigade" has the line "We're lining up the light-loafered and the bored bench warmers / ''Castaways and cutouts'', fill it up."
* AngryMobSong: "When the War Came" - the rare non-CrowdSong example.
* AnthropomorphicPersonification: The Queen in ''The Hazards of Love'': "My feet are the trunks... My head is the canopy high... My fingers extend to the leaves."
* AttemptedRape: "Margaret in Captivity" and "The Island".
* AudienceParticipationSong:
** "16 Military Wives," primarily during the "la-di-da"s.
** "The Mariner's Revenge Song", where Meloy demands that the audience provide the surrounding effects as the crew are consumed by the whale.
** "Billy Liar," during the "ba-ba-da-ba" part.
** "Chimbley Sweep" as well. Meloy encouraged audience members at a show to rip their bolted-together chairs apart and dance with them over their heads.
* AwesomeMcCoolname: Chris Funk.
* TheBardOnBoard: "The Island" is basically an abridgement of ''Theatre/TheTempest'' set to EpicRocking.
* BasedOnATrueStory: The Shankill Butchers were [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shankill_Butchers chillingly, chillingly real]]. The song does exaggerate a bit, but then, it was reflecting the fact that Northern Irish mothers came to use the Butchers as boogeymen.
** ''Apology Song'' was based on Colin's experience actually losing his friend Stephen's bicycle. Madeline was found a year later... before Colin crushed it accidentally.
* BawdySong: The punchline of "The Chimbley Sweep". Also, "Billy Liar", "A Cautionary Song", and possibly "The Landlord's Daughter."
** "Philomena", by Colin's own admission, is "The dirtiest Decemberists song ever written".
* BittersweetEnding - ''The Hazards of Love'': [[spoiler:"And as the waves came crashing down, he closed his eyes and softly kissed her."]]
** "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect" may also qualify, as its lyrics seem to speak of a man who, after continually trying and failing to be a good person in prior relationships, [[spoiler: has only found satisfaction in seducing married women and teenage girls.]]
* BolivianArmyEnding: The video for "This Is Why We Fight".
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: Combines with LyricalDissonance sometimes - see "July, July!" and "The Chimbley Sweep".
* BreakupSong: "Record Year For Rainfall".
* BuriedAlive: Discussed (along with {{Fingore}}) in "The Mariner's Revenge Song", but the intended victim ends up meeting a different fate.
* CaliforniaCollapse: Mentioned in "Calamity Song".
* Myth/CelticMythology: ''[[Literature/TainBoCuailnge The Tain]]'', as well as the general "guitar and accordion rock" flavor of many of their songs.
* ChurchOfHappyology: The video for "Cavalry Captain" is made to look like an old, worn VHS tape used as a recruitment tool for a cult called "Decemberism", with Colin playing its filthy rich leader.
* ConceptAlbum: ''The Hazards of Love''. ''The Tain'' is also a concept EP.
* ContinuityNod: Possibly. The woman in "We Both Go Down Together" is [[EpilepticTrees considered by some]] to be the mother of Leslie Anne Levine.
** "The Chimbley Sweep" may or may not be narrated by a minor character from (once more) "Leslie Anne Levine". [[WildMassGuessing But no one can say for sure]].[[note]]"Leslie Anne Levine" has a verse where the singer tells of having made an acquaintance with a chimney sweep; which is unlikely to be true since the first verse already said she was a stillborn.[[/note]]
* CreepyChild: The ghosts of the Rake's children in "Revenge!" Though can you blame them?
** Try listening to the "Yummy Yummy Yummy, I got love in my tummy" song after hearing this song. It's so creepy it makes other songs creepy.
* CrowdSong: "Sons & Daughters" and "The Rake's Song".
** Any of their songs can become this in a live performance.
* CutHisHeartOutWithASpoon: "The Tain": "I will bleed your heart through a samovar soon". Ow.
* DarkerAndEdgier: "The Tain" is downright ''eerie'', which is saying something considering the [[Literature/TainBoCuailnge source material]].
* DoorstopBaby: "The Chimbley Sweep".
* DrivenToSuicide: The implied fate of the narrator from "I Was Meant for the Stage".
* EpicRocking: ''The Tain'', "The Island: Come & See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel The Drowning", "The Mariner's Revenge Song", "The Crane Wife, Parts Two & Three", and "The Perfect Crime #1[=/=]The Day I Knew You'd Not Come Back".
** Notably, ''The Hazards of Love'' is performed live as one 50-minute song. Then again, it is a concept album.
** Live performances of "When the War Came" and "The Chimbley Sweep".
* EveryoneHasStandards: Jenny Conlee could play songs about homicide, suicide, and infanticide, but "Culling of the Fold" was too violent for her. At her insistence, the song was only available by redeeming a code on ''The Crane's Wife'' interior on their website or downloading it from iTunes. The chorus may explain why:
-->"Ply her heart with gold and silver,\\
And take your sweetheart down to the river\\
Dash her on the paving stones,\\
It may break your heart to break her bones,\\
But someone's gotta do the culling of the fold..."
* ExcitedShowTitle: "July, July!", "O Valencia!", "The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)", "All Arise!".
* TheFairFolk: ''The Hazards of Love'''s Forest Queen, in all likelihood. Overlaps with AnthropomorphicPersonification, as seen above.
* GeniusLoci: The Annan Water in ''The Hazards of Love''.
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: ''The Hazards of Love''.
* {{Gorn}}: "Culling of the Fold".
* HistoricalFiction: A possible interpretation for "Here I Dreamt I was an Architect". It might also be about [[ShoutOut famous literature]], {{Reincarnation}}, {{Immortality}}, or [[AllJustADream the narrator's dreams]]. [[WildMassGuessing It's not all too clear, really.]]
* ICallItVera: Stephen's bicycle Madeline in "The Apology Song".
* IWillWaitForYou: "Yankee Bayonet", "From My Own True Love Lost At Sea".
* InfantImmortality: Very, very subverted. There are at least six songs about dead children (''Leslie Ann Levine'', ''The Infanta'', ''The Rake's Song''/''Revenge!'', ''The Chimbley Sweep'', ''The Bachelor and the Bride''), and possibly more based on interpretation (such as ''Dear Avery'' and ''Burying Davy'').
* InterClassRomance: "We Both Go Down Together" is about a wealthy young man who falls in love with a poor girl. It doesn't end well for either of them.
* IntercourseWithYou: "Oceanside," and possibly "Of Angels and Angles."
* InTheStyleOf: You might make a case for a song here or there, but the only song where they've explicitly copped to this is "Down By The Water," which is their tribute to Music/{{REM}}.
* ItsAllMyFault: At the end of ''The Hazards of Love,'' William mourns to Margaret that "I pulled you, and I called you here," probably referring to how if it hadn't been for him, she would never have come to the forest.
* LegionOfLostSouls: "The Legionnaire's Lament."
* LocationSong: "Yankee Bayonet" by centers on a girl from Oconee County, SC whose sweetheart is killed in the Civil War somewhere "on the sea-swept Carolinas".
* TheLostWoods: ''The Hazards of Love'' is set in one of these, ruled by the dread Forest Queen.
* LoudnessWar: While definitely not the worst offenders, their songs can delve into this [[http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/7254/loud1.png at]] [[http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/9862/loud2.png times]].
* LyricSwap: in "July, July!", the line "the water rolls down the drain" changes to "the blood rolls down the drain" for one refrain.
* LyricalColdOpen: "The Legionnaire's Lament", "Billy Liar", "Valerie Plame".
* LyricalDissonance: Why, yes, I'll have a big fat cauldronful: "The Legionnaire's Lament", the final verse of "Los Angeles, I'm Yours", "16 Military Wives", the end of "The Mariner's Revenge Song" in a rare instrumental example, "O Valencia!", "Culling of the Fold", "A Cautionary Song", "July, July!", "The Chimbley Sweep", "Calamity Song"...
* MadnessMantra: "Mariner's Revenge": [[NightmareFuel "Fiiiind him, biiiiind him, tie him to a pole and break his fiiiiiingers to spliiiiinters ..."]]
** Also "Someone's got to do[=/=]the culling of the fold..."
* MafiaPrincess: O Valencia!
* MidWordRhyme: "The Legionnaire's Lament".
-->"Medicating in the sun\\
Pinched doses of laudanum\\
Longing for the old fecund-\\
-ity of my homeland."
* MurderBallad: "The Mariner's Revenge Song", "The Rake's Song", "The Culling of the Fold".
* MrsRobinson: The widow in "The Chimbley Sweep".
* MyBelovedSmother: The Forest Queen in ''The Hazards of Love''.
* MyCountryTisOfTheeThatISting: "Sixteen Military Wives".
* NewSoundAlbum: ''The King Is Dead'' brings with it an Americana sound best described as Music/BruceSpringsteen gone [[CountryMusic Country]] (that steel guitar!). Seriously. Other albums do exhibit subtle changes, but none presented as big of a change as this one.
* NiceHat: Chris Funk likes to wear a trilby.
* NotIfTheyEnjoyedItRationalization: "We Both Go Down Together" may count, or it may be an inversion depending on how you interpret the line "You wept but your soul was willing."
* NotSoSafeHarbor: A few of their more maritimal shanties count: "The Mariner's Revenge Song", "Shanty for the Arethusa" ([[JustForFun/XMeetsY with ghosts!]]), and ''A Cautionary Song''.
* OffingTheOffspring: "The Rake's Song".
* ThePerfectCrime: Fittingly, "The Perfect Crime #1" and "The Perfect Crime #2".
* {{Pirates}}: Also whalers, privateers, slavers, smugglers, and other miscellaneous mariners.
* PrecisionFStrike: "Clementine." "You slept in your overalls[=/=]after the wrecking ball[=/=]bereft you of house and of home[=/=]and left you with sweet fuck-all."
** One of three in their ''entire discography'' ([[ClusterFBomb not counting live performances]]). The other two, both from The Perfect Crime #1: "I got the mob boss bought, got a letter from the DEA[=/=]I got a mockup of the lockup where they stock up all their fuckin' change"; and "So we ran around town with the cops stepping on our tails[=/=]Because we'd rather break depth than a French fuck in county jail[=/=]To pull [[TitleDrop the perfect crime]], this is the perfect crime!"
* {{Privateer}}: See above.
* ProtestSong: "16 Military Wives," complete with a video that skewers UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush and features a LARP/ModelUnitedNations conference gone whack.
* PyrrhicVictory: In "The Mariner's Revenge Song", the titular mariner only gets his revenge ''after'' being SwallowedWhole by a whale.
* QueerRomance: "On The Bus Mall" is about two drug-addicted male prostitutes falling in love. Also [[WordOfGay confirmed in interviews]] to be the subject of "The Soldiering Life".
* RapeAsDrama: "The Landlord's Daughter", "The Abduction of Margaret", "We Both Go Down Together", possibly "The Chimbley Sweep", "Odalisque", "The Bachelor and the Bride". They managed at least one per album until [[LighterAndSofter ''The King Is Dead'']].
* [[AbductionIsLove Rape Is Love]]: "We Both Go Down Together". Probable UnreliableNarrator.
* RibcageStomach: "The Mariner's Revenge Song", the protagonist has just been swallowed by a whale, and the song contains the line "Its ribs are ceiling beams", implying this trope.
* RockOpera: ''The Hazards of Love''.
* RougeAnglesOfSatin: In the "Make It Better" video, when the band is performing on a foreign talk show and the band member's names are shown in subtitles, two of them have apparently fallen victim to auto-correct: ''Colon'' Meloy and Chris ''Funky''. This is, of course, part of the StylisticSuck of the show.
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: And how.
* ShortRangeLongRangeWeapon: in the video for "Why We Fight" the bow and quiver of arrows the guy with the red scarf is holding is still not shot by the time the video ends with the older kids are almost upon them.
* ShoutOut: The mention of "The Year of the Chewable Ambien Tab" and the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJpfK7l404I&ob=av3n video]] for "Calamity Song" are {{Shout Out}}s to [[DeadArtistsAreBetter the late]] Creator/DavidFosterWallace's ''Literature/InfiniteJest''.
* ShoutOutToShakespeare: Constantly.
* SillyLoveSongs: Subverted in "Yankee Bayonet". Played straight in "Oceanside". Played straight, if rather unconventionally in "The Bandit Queen."
* TheSomethingSong: "The Rake's Song", "Lake Song", "The Mariner's Revenge Song", "Calamity Song", "A Cautionary Song", "Raincoat Song", "Apology Song", "Baby Song", "A Beginning Song"...
* SophisticatedAsHell: "Los Angeles, I'm Yours"
-->"Old ladies, pleasant and demure\\
Sallow-cheeked and sure\\
[[ComedicUnderwearExposure I can see your undies]]"
* StarCrossedLovers: "O Valencia!" very much so. Also, one interpretation of "We Both Go Down Together".
* StealthPun: The line "I guess we have some time to ''kill''" in "The Mariner's Revenge Song".
* SwallowedWhole: In "The Mariner's Revenge Song", both the protagonist and the villain end up suffering this at the hands of a gigantic whale. The improbability is lampshaded by the protagonist, who credits their survival to divine intervention.
* TakingYouWithMe: The end of the full "O Valencia!" video.
* TakeThat[=/=]TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" consists 4 minutes of Colin Meloy hating on UsefulNotes/LosAngeles in great detail.
* TickertapeParade: The band use this term in their song ''The Perfect Crime #2."
-->''"It was like a tickertape parade''\\
''When the plastique on the safe was blown away"''
* UnreliableNarrator: "Here I Dreamt I was an Architect", "We Both Go Down Together".
* UnusualEuphemism: "The Chimbley Sweep".
* UsedFuture: Appears to be the case in the video for "This Is Why We Fight".
* UsedToBeASweetKid: "The Shankill Butchers".
-->"They used to be just like me and you\\
They used to be sweet little boys\\
But something went horribly askew\\
Now killing is their only source of joy"
* VillainSong: "The Rake's Song". Depending on your interpretation, "The Culling of the Fold" could be this.
* WarIsHell: The lyrics of "This Is Why We Fight".
** Not to mention the harrowing and gruesome "When the War Came".
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: The heroine's pregnancy drives the action in "The Hazards of Love" -- up until track seven. The baby's never mentioned after that, and it's presumably [[spoiler:left orphaned and alone at the end]].
** Actually, the entirety of "The Hazards of Love" (after Margaret runs into the woods) takes place over the course of about two days, and WordOfGod confirms she's still pregnant at the time of ''[[IntercourseWithYou Isn't It a Lovely Night]]'', so [[FridgeHorror it's safe to assume ]][[spoiler:[[FridgeHorror the baby dies as well]]]].
*** Which brings up further FridgeHorror: She was not only pregnant, but ''showing''. Now consider [[RapeAsDrama the Rake's role in Act II]], and the glee with which he approaches it. Dude's messed up.
** The Forest queen is as interested in getting William's illegitimate unborn child out of the picture as she is his lover, and instructs The Rake (who, like Colin Meloy, is no stranger to infanticide) to render Margret "rift and defiled," so it's likely her brutal rape was also accompanied by a miscarriage or an forced abortion.
* YourMakeupIsRunning: "The Tain".
-->"Darling dear, [[AxCrazy what have you done]]?\\
Your clothes are torn, your makeup runs."\\
"[[BlatantLies I ran through brambles, blooming thistle,\\
I washed my face in the river when you whistled me on]]."
* YourMom: The subject of "A Cautionary Tale".