At its most basic level, The Tain is a rock opera. It’s a genre bending 18-minute song divided into five parts, loosely derived from “the Celtic mythology cycle of the same name.” The song touches on angular acoustic pop, Zeppelin riffing, anachronistic French cabaret and sweeping anthems before rolling back the clock to revisit its opening arrangements.
Obtuse lyrics and Colin Meloy’s near monopolization of The Tain‘s “characters” make full comprehension — even with the lyrics sheet — nearly impossible. Meloy and co-writer Rachel Blumberg possess such a strong sense of melody and deftness in composition that this shortcoming is easy to overlook. The Tain easily lives up to the precedent set by such six-string operatic classics like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and The Who’s “A Quick One While He’s Away.” Definitely a must for fans who like their indie pop sprawling and literary.