★ ★ ★ Capitol Records
The Portland, Oregon-based band gets a taste of the South
When listening to The Decemberists’ sixth full-length album, The King Is Dead, fans in search of the refined indie-folk-rock vibe for which the band is renowned will be disappointed. In contrast to The Hazards of Love, a warbling seventeen-song epic rooted in repetitive riffs and a rock-metal conglomerate, The King Is Dead provides twanging guitar- and harmonica-laden tracks layered in with satisfying melodies and a bluegrass twist. Though the album’s subject matter is more diverse in comparison to full-blown country ballads, evident in “All Arise!” and “June Hymn,” there is no mistaking their soulful Americana influences. But what’s most unique about The King Is Dead is how well The Decemberists bridge the gap between country, folk, and indie-rock, cherry-picking the successful elements of each genre yet simultaneously sacrificing their signature tone. “Don’t Carry It All” opens with a solid, tambourine-heavy beat, truly embodying the spirit of the album, whereas “This Is Why We Fight,” a later track which treads into post-grunge ‘90s-rock territory, is reminiscent of The Crane Wife and Picaresque. Despite lead singer Colin Meloy’s distinct, heady and quavering voice proclaiming “I am gonna stand my ground / They rise to me and I’ll blow them down” on “Rise to Me,” the country-infused flavor may not withstand another go-around, leaving seasoned Decemberists devotees with a longing for the good old days.
RECOMMENDED: “Down By The Water,” “Rise to Me”
(Photo, via Lintcoat)