The Decemberists: The King Is Dead

January 27, 2011

So, I’m planning on reviewing a lot of albums on this site. My goal is 50 in 2011. I want to try to do this in some kind of consistent way. With this in mind, I am going to have sections for each review: History, Review, Rating. In the history section, I’ll talk either about the band’s history or my history in the band. The aim of this section is to put my review into perspective by disclosing what I know about the band and how I feel about their earlier work. The review section should be pretty self explanatory. Finally, the rating scale will be a different arbitrary rating (i.e. 4/5 basketballs, NC-17, 12 stars…). Hopefully this will be relevant to the CD. Oh, and I’ll also provide download links. Because I want you to like fun. I also want to keep them pretty short. Here we go. Review 1/50

The Decemberists - The King is Dead

The King is Dead, the Decemberists' sixth studio album

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: The King Is Dead
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: January 17, 2011


I’ve been a fan of The Decemberists since Picaresque came out in 2005. I’ve seen them no less than 4 times in concert. I’ve generally loved all of their CDs except for their 2009 release, The Hazards Of Love. To say that The Decemberists are one of my favorite bands would probably be a stretch, but they put on a great live show and had 4 strong releases under their belt prior to the release of The Hazards Of Love. I didn’t hate it, but I never got into it. It was like everything I loved about The Decemberists, but on steroids. But on steroids to the point that it was no longer attractive any more. It was too heavy on concept, light on songwriting, and generally too much in all the wrong ways.

So when I heard that Colin Meloy was going to skip the concept for the next album and just write some folk songs, I was thrilled. I’d say we hadn’t seen that side of the Decemberists since their second album. My expectations were high going into this album


Let’s cut right to the chase: This is probably the best Decembersists album to date, and I have a feeling at the end of their career it will be viewed as the peak of their career. This album displays all of Meloy’s strengths: It shows his appreciation of the history of American music, his knowledge of how to tell a nice story in 3-4 minutes, and a range of vocabulary that exceeds that of the average college graduates but never sounds like he is just speaking to hear himself.

There is nothing that even resembles a weak track on this album. Where on their last release there were choruses of singing undead children, instrumentals and multi-part pieces throughout the disc, this one has 10 pure songs. Each one stands on it’s own as a story, but the sound of all of them make this disc still feel like an album.

In my opinion, I’d say that listening to this disc makes their earlier indulgences more bearable. Knowing that they have the power to bring things back in at will puts their excesses in a much more pleasant light. I look forward to what the band has to offer in the future, be it another concept album of another collection of simply great songs.


4 out of 5 Crooked French Canadians

Download this here


2 Responses to “The Decemberists: The King Is Dead”

  1. Rodney Says:

    Thank you

  2. […] My initial review of Decemberists – The King is Dead […]

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