ALBUM: The King is Dead by The Decemberists

First and foremost, The King is Dead is nothing like The Hazards of Love.

Though I doubt any of us assumed The Decemberists would continue creating one rock opera after another, I certainly wasn’t expecting the laid-back country-folk record that sits in front of me now.

That being said, they still nailed it. The King is Dead is fantastic. Dispensing with any higher concept to the album or narratives that carry on across multiple tracks The Decemberists crafted a more traditional album of stand-alone songs. Its really as simple as The Decemberists get. (Which isn’t always that simple, ’cause higher concepts aside, Colin Meloy still peppers his lyrics with five-dollar words.) (Note: I love that about him.)

I’m tempted to say that the first track, “Don’t Carry It All”, is the true standout amongst an altogether brilliant album. The opening harmonica riff and Meloy’s strong voice start the album off on an almost unmatchable high. But the energy just keeps going from there with powerhouse songs like “Down By the Water” and the anthemic “This Is Why We Fight”.

“Rox In the Box” feels the most familiar and akin to past Decemberist songs. You are immediately transported to a distinct period of history, so although the lyrics remain ambiguous, the music makes it very clear where and when you are. Its like a musical time-machine.

Now I was tempted to claim “Don’t Carry It All” as the standout, but I’ve got to say the standout song is actually two songs. (Twist!)  “January Hymn” and “June Hymn” or, as I’m calling them, the Hymn Suite. Both songs deal with their respective seasons. One a tribute to the cold snow-laden winter and another to the rebirth and warmth of summer.

mp3: The Decemberists – January Hymn
from the album The King is Dead (buy it here)

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  1. The Man. . .’s avatar

    You guys ROCK.

    Tobler,

    I found a friend of mine on facebook from elementary school on Facebook. His name is Nathan Goldman. He is a graphic designer/artist who happens to do a lot of work with bands, etc. Check out his site: http://www.dkngstudios.com/ If you ever come across bands seeking for good work/ album art, you should have them check out Nate. Possibly a post about their work, i dont know. Just thought I would pass this along!

    Take care,

    Parker

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