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The King Is Dead

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Album Review

The Decemberists' sixth, full-length studio outing finds the Portland, Oregon-based indie rock collective exploring a region that has thus far eluded them. Raised on a steady diet of Morrissey, Robyn Hitchcock, Shirley Collins, and Fairport Convention, The King Is Dead represents frontman Colin Meloy's first foray into the musical traditions of his homeland, or more specifically, it proves that he really, really likes R.E.M. “Calamity Song,” which is one of three tracks to feature guitar work from Peter Buck, threatens to break into “Pretty Persuasion” or “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” at any moment, and first single “Down by the Water” flirts with “The One I Love” hard enough to take it on a long weekend, though Meloy has stated that the track “started out as more of a paean to R.E.M. than I think any of us really wanted it to.” David Rawlings and Gillian Welch also join the party on a number of tracks, lending their instantly recognizable voices to two of the album’s finest moments, the Wildflowers-era, Tom Petty-inspired “Don’t Carry It All,” and the lovely, Paul Simon-esque “June Hymn” — Meloy and Welch, the former a Montana-born Anglophile and the latter a California girl with a fetish for dustbowl Appalachia — harmonize nicely, canceling out each other’s vocal affectations. It’s a refreshing change from the usual compilation of bibliophile, sea shanty/murder ballad, and while the Led Zeppelin III-style rural overhauling may isolate fans who prefer the serpentine, progressive, art rock of albums like The Crane Wife and Hazards of Love, it opens up a whole new continent for the band to explore.

Customer Reviews

Great

Not often I buy a whole album just on a preview but thought this was great on the snippets I heard.
It's like Mumford and sons mixed with the Kings of Leon.

Hmmm - vaguely reminiscent of something...

Why am I humming Take it Easy by The Eagles after listening to some of this? This is fine stuff, easy to take to on the first listen, it will no doubt be a good one for singing along with as well as one to listen in quiet and reflect on what it says. Worth my pennies and yours

Can't wait for the Hammersmith Apollo gig in March

The move to a big label hasn't dampened the creativity and energy of the Decemberists music in the slightest. Here's to a big label giving an indie band the room to create musical magic such as this. If it means they get some radio airtime in my native UK as well, then all the better.

Well done Colin et al, another fantastic release.

Biography

Formed: 2000 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Led by Montana native Colin Meloy, the Decemberists craft theatrical, hyper-literate pop songs that draw heavily from late-'60s British folk acts like Fairport Convention and Pentangle and the early-'80s college rock grandeur of the Waterboys and R.E.M. The band's initial lineup also included drummer Ezra Holbrook, bassist Nate Query, keyboardist/accordionist Jenny Conlee, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk. Frontman Meloy had previously devoted some time to an alternative country group before...
Full bio