Decemberists Get Religion

Portland quintet records third album in a church

The TainThe Infanta

The album will be the hyper-literate indie folkers' third full-length (plus two EPs) in the span of four years. The title track is about "the coronation procession for a child Spanish princess," explains songwriter Colin Meloy. Another track, "The Buxmoll," deals with male prostitution in downtown Portland.

The Infanta continues the band's evolution from the acoustic guitar-based 5 Songs EP (2001) through the symphony of accordion, glockenspiel, pedal steel and "tin toys" showcased on The Tain, a five-part song suite based on an Irish folk cycle.

"On 5 Songs and the first record, we were sort of going on default settings: these are the instruments we have, and this is how we're going to play," says Meloy. "As we've gotten closer as bandmates, we've really started to flesh out a better sound. On this record, a lot of the emphasis is going to be on the instrumentations themselves.

Meloy's lyric-writing also received a jolt from his experience penning The Replacements' Let It Be, his non-fiction chronicle of the seminal 1984 indie rock album. "I had a renewed vigor for writing songs," he says of immersing himself in the ramshackle mind of the young Paul Westerberg, "and writing really out-of-control, over-the-top, imaginative ramblings."