Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead (2011)

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Occasionally I run into a band that is talked about so favorably that I kind of put them to the side. Unfortunately, one of those bands was The Decemberists. I actually remember watching the video for "The Mariner's Revenge Song" and being really awestruck but for some reason, nothing actually came of it. So when NPR put up their latest album The King is Dead for streaming, I jumped at the opportunity to actually listen to it before I forgot. I can't say too much about how it stacks up to their previous works but I instantly understood why people liked the band less than halfway through first track "Don't Carry It All". After all, its virtually impossible to dislike anything with aptly played harmonica solos which can actually be found practically all throughout the album. Channeling part American roots music (particularly in songs "Rox In The Box" and "All Arise!") and something more rock-like, the album is melodically driven to an almost surprising degree. There is never more than one voice in the spotlight. Whether that be Colin Meloy's vocals, Jenny Conlee's accordion, the aforementioned harmonica solos, or even a little fiddle. I shouldn't be surprised that The Decemberists can combined folksy acoustics with dazzling rock grooves and such into a cohesive album, and yet I am. "This Is Why We Fight" and "Down By The Water" are probably the most "contemporary" and multi-layered tracks on the album and yet fit seamlessly with the more sparse, acoustic-based tracks on the album. Color me impressed. With the catchy memorability resulting from the melodic focus I know I won't forget about The Decemberists ever again.

Give The King Is Dead a listen at NPR here.

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