The Decemberists - The King is Dead

Album cover
Folk, Indie
Capitol Records
The Decemberists
The King is Dead
The Decemberists - The King is Dead Review rating:
3.5
User rating:
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Bolstering folk-rock with an indie twist on their sixth studio album, The Decemberists’ The King is Dead combines two enjoyable mediums into one solid album from one of the genre’s biggest names. With a focus on a down home sound mixed with impressive instrumentation, The King is Dead makes for another enjoyable effort that plays on the weaving in of sounds from the blues and folk movements to create a calm, yet moving record.

From the opening hums of “Don’t Carry It All”, it is apparent that this is not going to be one of those foot-stomping alt-folk-country-whatever albums that seem to be popping up nowadays. The Decemberists have carved a respectable sonic niche with this album, and it focuses on creating a strong foundation in simple melodies and songwriting. Whether it is the harmonica on this track or the strings in “Rox in the Box”, the smartly placed instrumentation of this album pulls you into the simple, yet thoughtful guitars and piano melodies sprinkled throughout. “All Arise!” follows a similar vein, bolstering catchy string lines to back the mellow twang of the rhythm guitars to further create a warm listening experience that doesn’t leave you bored regardless of the tempo.

But everything isn’t just in one branch of the folk tree. “Down by the Water” has the feel of an alt-country tune ripe with southern twang and smooth vocal lines without feeling like you’ve left the realm created by the other tunes. “This is Why We Fight” is arguably the biggest sounding of the bunch, with more of knack for driving drums and more intricate guitar work that helps create some diversity on this album.

Really, the only drawback to this album lie in whether or not you can enjoy an album based mostly off of laid back arrangements that doesn’t have a whole lot of diversity sonically. While there are a few peak moments in the proceedings, The King is Dead’s focus may be its only real downfall. Sure, there are times where folk isn’t going to be a part of your required listening for the day, but anyone who has even a slight desire for such tunes should fine this enjoyable.

The King is Dead surely brings the rustic feel of country and blues back to the world of The Decemberists, and it makes for another good outing from these folks. Rest assured, they certainly know how to tweak things a bit to keep everyone, including diehard fans, interested in what they have to offer.

1. Don't Carry It All
2. Calamity Song
3. Rise to Me
4. Rox in the Box
5. January Hymn
6. Down by the Water
7. All Arise!
8. June Hymn
9. This is Why We Fight
10. Dear Avery

The Decemberists are a five-piece indie/folk rock band that formed in 2000 in Portland, Oregon, United States. The band currently consists of Colin Meloy (vocals, guitar), Chris Funk (guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, pedal steel), Jenny Conlee (organ, piano, accordion), Nate Query (electric/acoustic bass, cello) and John Moen (drums). Among the band's most notable former members are Rachel Blumberg (drums, vocals) and Jesse Emerson (bass). The band's most recent album, The Hazards of Love, was released on March 24, 2009

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