The Decemberists are synonymous with songs of forlorned sailors, drunken seafarers and tempestuous characters of a time we’re all glad we missed. When they released The King is Dead, there was an air of let down with this album as if The Decemberists had turned a deaf ear to what they do so well. What is it we have with The King is Dead? We’ve got one fantastic Americana album. With help from Gillian Welch, and Peter Buck (REM) this album is damn fine.
Opening track, Don’t Carry it All, is one of the most full sounding songs you’ll hear. The warm bass drum beginning, the melodic harmonica, the subtle violin, the addition of Gillian Welch laying backup vox on this has such a great feeling to it, it feels epic, huge, and one hell of a way to kick off an album. Moving on, there really isn’t a weak song on this album. From the high on ‘Don’t Carry it All,’ to the rustic ‘January Hymn’ to the near country hit ‘All Arise!’ and the balladry of ‘Dear Avery,’ this album is one carefully crafted album.
What may leave one wanting is the lack of freedom on the album. Americana tends to have a quality of freestyle, of error, and that isn’t here. But that isn’t exactly what the Decemberists are about, and in no way would I say does it detract from this albums ability to entertain you from head to tail.
Buy The King Is Dead