The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
I will admit, I wasn’t as excited about this album as I was about the new Amos Lee… but this one surprised me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of The Decemberists, but I thought I knew exactly what this album would sound like. I thought I’d like it, but didn’t expect to go wild over it. Well, I love it!
I think two big things really contribute to my surprise reaction to this album. Gillian Welch is featured heavily throughout The King Is Dead and the addition of her voice works REALLY well. Also, after two concept albums that were best digested in one sitting (“The Crane Wife” (2006) and “The Hazards Of Love” (2009)), I think this album will be welcomed by most fans. Each song is really strong on its own. There’s a definite thread throughout, giving the whole album connectivity, but there’s no heavy story to follow or grasp.
The album starts MOVING, with “Don’t Carry It All” and “Calamity Song” – both upbeat in mood and driving in sound. Track 3, “Rise To Me” is a bit slower and is a beautiful showcase of Colin Meloy’s vocals (Welch’s harmony really adds the finishing touch). What follows is the first really catchy, sing-along tune… “Rox in the Box” sounds like a song you’d hear in an Irish Pub, with bouzouki, accordion, and violin joining to create a rousing chorus.
Mid-way through The King Is Dead, is my current favorite on the album (probably since it’s so fitting for my environment), “January Hymn”. This song is very simple and pretty – a much needed breath before the hard hitting single, “Down by the Water”. Piano and fiddle contribute to a nearly honky-tonk, “All Arise!”, followed by the sparse and joyful, “June Hymn”. The album wraps up with maybe the closest to a straight-forward rock song on the album, “This is Why We Fight” and an almost haunting, “Dear Avery”, with pedal steel and a chorus of vocals that stay with you when the album ends.
The King Is Dead comes out January 18th…
until then, you can LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE ALBUM HERE.