Album Review: The Decemberists – The King is Dead

And now, with feeling…

With the exception of 2004’s Around the Sun, I’ve always been a fan of the classic REM sound.  So it was refreshing to hear the clear REM influences in The Decemberists new album The King is Dead. And that vibe comes straight from the source, in the form of Peter Buck’s unmistakably sublime rhythm work.

The lead single, “Down By the Water,” not only features Peter Buck’s magic hand, but also the vocal stylings of singer Gillian Welch.  The two merge beautifully with the lush Decemberist soundscapes.  Songs like “June Hymn” and “January Hymn” are tender and soft ballads that complement the more upbeat and textured tracks perfectly.

My personal favorite track again features Buck:  “Don’t Carry It All.”  With a Heartbreakers vibe, singer Colin Meloy’s opening line of “Here we come to a turning of the season” turns the page on the disappointment that was The Hazards of Love, their uneven previous offering.  They certainly provided a great listening experience; each song is layered, rich and interesting to hear.  Aside from the obvious rock undertones, it’s easy to catch the country and bluegrass highlights and a healthy dose of good, old fashioned folk.

2011 is barely a month old, but The King is Dead is easily one of the most consistent and smooth albums of the past year.

I don’t do stars, people, just go buy the album.

Don’t be surprised if I spend a solid majority of the next day or two looking at live videos on YouTube.  Also, don’t be surprised if, two days from now, you find a Decemberists video posted here because it’s stuck in my head like a musical splinter.  That happens, you know.


It’s been about a year or two since I wrote about a specific album.  It was fun.

Happy Weekend, all.  Try not to get too snowy.


About Brian

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