The King is Dead
$ 9.99,rating: ***
Changing gears from folk-rock theatre of The Hazards of Love to a breezy,Neil Young-ian lullaby-mix in The King is Dead,The Decemberists,it seems,have finally come to their senses. Lead singer Colin Meloy has developed a unique style of lyrical harmony by combining countryside eccentricities and an obsession with British folk,which also dominates the quaint personality of the band,who claim to travel extensively by hot-air zeppelin balloons.
Opening with a harmonica-and mandolin-heavy track,Dont carry it all,the band comes to a turning of the season,marking the change to a lighter tone in their lyrics and sound. Featuring guitarist Peter Buck from REM and bluegrass singer Gillian Welch,their sixth studio album combines tunes of British folk music and earthy American pastoral seamlessly. The King is Dead is also rumoured to be a tribute to The Smiths 1986 album The Queen is Dead,with nasal rustic vocals interspersed with harmonica solos. Tracking a year in the life of Meloy,songs like January hymn and June hymn also insert seasonal references to their hometown Portland,soothingly harmonised by guitarist Chris Funk. Calamity song begins like a country tune that you could dance the two-step to,with constant guitar plucking and Garth Brooks-like vocals.
The only drawback may be the lack of spontaneity in the line-up,where there is no clear end to a song,before the next one begins. The production,done in a barn in Oregon,is smooth yet with a strong,instrumental,nerd-folk influence.