Quick Review (LP): The King Is Dead by The Decemberists


decemberists king is dead The Decemberists
The King Is Dead
2011

My Rating: B+

Best Tracks: “Don’t Carry It All”, “Rox In The Box”, “January Hymn”, “June Hymn”, “Dear Avery”

Were it not for the bleating timbre of Colin Meloy’s voice, I’d probably own every Decemberists record. Surely there has to be a better way to create a hybrid of Morrissey and Stipe, no? As for this here slab o’ wax, while it’s certainly no masterpiece, it’s nonetheless an exceptionally strong set of songs, featuring all of the things that folks have loved about The Decemberists from the beginning. There are a few instances where it seems they might be loafing – “This Is Why We Fight” for instance – but otherwise The King Is Dead finds the band embracing Americana, with several of the tracks getting help from the vocals of Gillian Welch (who I hope has learned a thing or two from Master Meloy’s productivity, ahem). While there’s nothing so lovely as “The Engine Driver” (though the pair of hymns come close) or as soaring and accessible as “16 Military Wives”, this is a well-rounded folk-rock record that will please fans of The Decemberists and might even convert a few Welch fans.

Random observations:

– “January Hymn” recalls the pastoral college rock of late 80’s / early 90’s REM, and even The Smiths
– “Dear Avery” reminds me of Fleetwood Mac

Wikipedia article
AMG review
Metacritic reviews
Pitchfork review

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