The Decemberists Find New Roots On “The King Is Dead”

[lastfm]The Decemberists[/lastfm] have been around for eleven years now, which in indie rock years is about 150. The group built their name on a unique style of symphonic pop and singer Colin Meloy’s literary, historical-narrative lyrics. Their early albums featured ballads about infant monarchs and Spanish armadas, and featured accordians as much as guitars. As they progressed, the band got more and more ambitious with their albums, culminating in 2009′s The Hazards of Love, a full on rock opera that some hailed as a masterpiece of a concept album and others derided as a dungeons and dragons soundtrack. Everyone has been wondering how on Earth they could follow that!

Click here to listen to The King Is Dead

Since the band had clearly pushed that element to its logical extreme, where do they go next? In a graceful shift that few other bands could have pulled off, the band retreated to the woods of their native Portland, Oregon to record what is sonically and lyrically their most straightforward album. On The King is Dead [lastfm]The Decemberists[/lastfm] trade their accordians for slide guitars and their sea shanties for old-fashioned country songs.

The result is a bunch of laid back, elegant and simple tracks that only a band with the experience and maturity of [lastfm]The Decemberists[/lastfm] could have pulled off. These “reinvention” albums are always tricky, but [lastfm]The Decemberists[/lastfm] walk the fine line between new and old with ease. That is to say, if you enjoyed past [lastfm]Decemberists[/lastfm] albums, don’t worry – Meloy’s lyrics are still front and center, and their quirky pop sensibilities are intact – this is still an album that sounds like [lastfm]The Decemberists[/lastfm], but it also sounds like something new.

From the rousing opener “Don’t Carry It All,” however, it’s clear that something new is going on. With a loud blast of harmonica, the song launches into a floor-stomping acoustic guitar rhythm. Country music is certainly a touchstone for [lastfm]Decemberists[/lastfm]‘s new sound, but nature might be the band’s biggest influence on The King is Dead. The album’s cover art shows a dark wall of pine trees, like you’re looking out at the woods from the porch of a cabin at dusk. The songs on The King is Dead reflect that image. This is an album where [lastfm]Decemberists[/lastfm] find new roots, not in the Victorian-era tales of their past albums, but in the backwoods of their native Oregon.


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

If you like what you hear, check out The King Is Dead available now at iTunes and Amazon.

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2 Responses to The Decemberists Find New Roots On “The King Is Dead”

  1. Pingback: Free MP3 Of The Day: The Decemberists, “Down By The Water”

  2. Pingback: The Decemberists Release “The King Is Dead – 104.1 Jack FM – Playing What We Want

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