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The Decemberists - The King Is Dead CD (album) cover

THE KING IS DEAD

The Decemberists

 

Prog Folk

2.92 | 84 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tombo2
4 stars "The Crane Wife" was my introduction to The Decemberists. I remember being particularly captivated by the catchier, poppier aspects to songs like "O Valencia", "Summersong", and the Crane Wife trilogy, and less by the prog side of the album (though, I admired the GG-like counterpoint of "Sons & Daughters"). It was fair to say, that The Decemberists, were somewhat of a guilty pleasure in my catalogue of flat-out prog rock classics. Once "The Hazards of Love" was released, I was hesitant to listen. In fact, it was only after a period of heavy contemplation, I decided to pick up the album, not having previously heard anything from it. Good decision. Possibly, the best decision I ever made. It turned out to be one of my favorite albums of all time, for the very fact that, it was progressive. It was eccentric. The concept, the instrumentation, the recurring themes, the strung together songs, it was a complete album. I played that one out. After that, I needed more, so I submerged myself in the sea that was the back-catalogue of Colin Meloy and friends, finding very little in the way of disappointment. So, when "The King Is Dead" came out, I heard it might be the last album they were going to make, well, I couldn't wait to hear it.

I didn't wait. I heard the whole thing, song by song, on YouTube before it was released. And I still bought it, the day it came out.

Now, I'll admit: "The King" is not progressive. Not eccentric. Not even a little. But, it is entertaining. "Hazards" was a musical masterpiece, but it was melancholy, mournful, sobering. There is a charm to the upbeat "King". It has nothing but a care-free feel. It's almost as if, Meloy realized he couldn't do better than "Hazards", so he just said: "wtf", and did whatever came to him. Forget the eccentricities.

Good idea. "The King" has all of the appeal of the previous Decemberists albums, it just lacks the overall structure. It keeps your attention. Even if there are no recurring themes, no bridges to link the songs, and it has very basic rock instrumentation, as an album, it succeeds.

From the captivating fun of "Don't Carry It All", "All Arise, and "Calamity Song" (which recalls the contrasting feel and lyric of Your Majesty's "Los Angeles, I'm yours"), to the laid-back comfort of "January Hymn" and "Dear Avery", to the punchy "Down By the Water" and "This Is Why We Fight", "The King Is Dead" has a persistent charisma that keeps it enticing.

This is the catchier, poppier, Decemberists. Without the prog. But, that's okay. It is still a complete album. Anyone who enjoyed The Decemberists for their sound and not their complexity, should like this. Maybe it sounds like REM. Maybe it sounds alt-country. I don't know. I don't care. All I know, is: I love it. Its charm and optimism is in great contrast to the dreariness of "Hazards", and it makes for the perfect swansong (if it has to be) of The Decemberists.

Tombo2 | 4/5 |

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