The Decemberists are one of those few bands whose new albums I am still excited about, a band that I’ve continued to adore even as I get older and my tastes change. But all albums are not created equal.

For no particular reason other than I am bored of researching negligent hiring, my preference in Decemberists albums.

1. Her Majesty The Decemberists
Maybe it’s because I have an epic poster of this album from when I saw them at Trees in ’04, but I think mostly it’s Billy Liar that puts it over the edge, because it narrowly beat out
2. Castaways and Cutouts
I think the original is still masterful. My first joy at hearing lyrics of petticoats and joie de vivre resurges with every listen.
3. Picaresque
The name is a delight, 16 Military Wives is a subtle protest from a time when I seethed at the political landscape, and The Mariner’s Revenge Song lends itself to epic concert performances (’05 in Asheville).
4. Hazards of Love
With a few undeniably genius songs (Wanting Comes in Waves & Rake’s Song) and the inspired recruitment of Shara Worden, this album stands out. I’ve gotta admire the commitment to concept and storytelling, but man, half the album boils down to one word: filler.
5. The Tain
6. Crane’s Wife
Its bottom-barrel ranking is largely a product of the fact I rarely, if ever listen to it. Or the cause. Like the red-headed stepchild of a whore mother (who is probably off shagging sailors on a sea shanty), this guy could live in a closet under the stairs and I wouldn’t miss it.