Dear The Decemberists,

Some days, I feel like I don’t know where our relationship is going, The Decemberists. I’m sitting here now, remembering all the good times we had together—taking long walks on the beach while listening to Picaresque, waking up to The Hazards of Love.  Do you remember the Christmas I spent with The Crane Wife? Heck, I even remember 5 Songs, guys. I was there for that. I supported you! You know my plastic lobster? I named him after Colin Meloy! You guys…you’re the best. Or at least you were.

I don’t know how to say this. It pains me to say it, really, but I don’t think you care about me the same way I care about you. I could cite a lot of the usual relationship quirks everyone faces: you never came to visit me at college, you never returned my calls, your lead singer hasn’t channeled his soul into my plastic lobster like I’d hoped. I stood strong, guys, but nothing has made me want to leave you quite like the latest thing you’ve done. If The King is Dead is where our relationship is headed, this may be our last correspondence.

It’s a bold move for you guys. You’ve always done your own thing, and I understand that. What started as simple folk music became much more. You were going somewhere, guys—an interesting mix of folk and progressive that told exciting stories about adventure and magic. And now, you’ve gone country. It’s that simple. I’m an independent man; I don’t want you telling me what to do with my life, The Decemberists. And I especially don’t want to feel like you’re constantly egging me towards square dancing. Stop it with the nasally twang and the excessively rustic fiddle. Don’t rush me. I’ll square dance when I’m ready.

You’ve claimed you’re trying to imitate that band I used to stalk, REM. Were you trying to impress me or something? Yeah, you know what? Even after you got Peter Buck as a guest guitarist, REM is still much better at being REM than you are. REM can sound slightly country without seeming forced and bizarre. This could be because they are from Georgia, and you are from Oregon. I’m not trying to stereotype, guys, but just try to see it from my perspective here. Plus, I liked you because you were unique! Is the best way to progress really by becoming someone you’re not?

But really, you think what you’ve done is the best choice? “If the rox in the box / Get the water right down to your socks”? Is that a lyric, or a Dr. Seuss quote? Why are we spelling “rocks” like it’s a bad 90’s action cartoon? Do you remember how you used to use lots of instruments? I did. Apparently now you’ve forgotten about everything that isn’t a harmonica or a fiddle. Did we really need two hymns? Were you even listening to me when I said I liked your last few albums? Have you thought about my needs lately?

It’s just…I don’t feel the same way about you as I did. Sure, I’ll still listen to The King is Dead occasionally. It’s at least better than other country music. Some nights, I feel like listening to country, and I’ll think of you, and put the CD back on. I’ll be sitting there, and “Calamity Song” or “This is Why We Fight” will come on, and I’ll realize that in a lot of ways, at least those tracks aren’t all that different than we were before. I mean, even now, “Calamity Song” is stuck in my head. I’ll give you that much.

But it can’t be the same anymore. We’ll still have the memories. I’ll still have “O Valencia!” and “16 Military Wives” and you’ll still have the locks of my hair I cut off and mailed to you. But I’m moving on, guys. Freelance Whales has been releasing good material lately, and I think I might start sending them creepy fanmail instead of you. I’m sorry. I give up, The Decemberists. I just can’t be your fanboy anymore.

Your Still Very Big Fan,

Evan Goldaper