The Decemberists – The King is Dead – Capitol Records 509999 47547 2 8, 40:42 *****:
In The King is Dead, The Decemberists’ latest project, you can hear the various influences and flavors present in their music and sound that make up an especially tasty mix. There’s a bit of REM and indie rock here (such as “Down by the Water”) and lead vocalist Colin Meloy’s voice, in another time and place, would have been right at home singing Celtic folk songs. Of course including instruments like fiddle, accordion and bouzouki (as in “Rox in the Box”) certainly doesn’t hurt this last comparison and adds a certain Irish feel to some songs. Coming along for the ride and to add country authenticity (like “Dear Avery”) are Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, contributing backing vocals to several songs. [I was reminded of The Band…Ed.]
The brevity of the songs and the CD, just a bit over 40 minutes, lend a fast pace to the proceedings. The main attraction of the CD is a superb and seamless blending of musical genres resulting in something completely new and fresh. I found myself singing along to most of the tunes and this is an indication of the accessibility and level of engagement to the tunes. With literate lyrics, beautiful melodies, and spot-on arrangements, The King is Dead is a CD that I will revisit often. Highly recommended.
TrackList: Don’t Carry It All; Calamity Song; Rise to Me; Rox in the Box; January Hymn; Down by the Water; All Arise!; June Hymn; This is Why We Fight; Dear Avery
– Hermon Joyner