Sunday, January 23, 2011
The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
At long last, The Decemberists new album The King Is Dead has arrived!! And I have been playing it constantly. As big of a Decemberists fan that I am, I must confess that I really didn't like The Hazards of Love very much. I can appreciate (as always) Colin Meloy's unbelievable lyricism and mastery of the English language, but the album, that was really an incredibly intense rock opera in essence, was just too heavy for me. So I was very anxious to see what their new album would be like.
The album opens with "Don't Carry It All." The song immediately starts off with someone wailing on a mouth harp, soon joined by a fiddle. The song has an undeniably country/folk sound to it, so I was very hesitant at first, considering the fact that just the word country usually stimulates my gag reflex. But if anyone can reinvent country/folk and make me end up loving it, it's The Decemberists.
The whole album just has this rural, rustic feel to it (which made sense later on when I found out that they recorded the album in a barn in a town outside Portland). Colin's lyricism is as verbose and brilliantly vivid as ever. But the beauty of the lyrics are enhanced by the beautiful melodies and the genius tempos for each song. It's like each song floats to your over a warm breeze through a field on a farm somewhere.
"The Calamity Song" is one of my favorite tracks. It's upbeat tempo makes it impossible for you not to start tapping your feet and feel the urge for a good ol' boot scootin'. "Rise to Me" is one of the slower tracks and is really beautiful. It definitely has the old Decemberists sound (like The Crane Wife), but then the country twang is added in perfectly in the background to where it isn't TOO country, but is a new and refreshing sound for them. "Rox In The Box" is another really catchy track from the album. We get a little accordion in there (yes!). But of course, it's like no accordion has ever sounded before, especially when accompanied by a wicked fiddle part. It is such a fun song to listen to.
"January Hymn" is a nice, calm acoustic track. Simple and sweet. "Down By The Water" was their first single from the album and it has really grown on me. I love the harmonic, the harmony and the tempo. It all comes together really beautifully. I think it sums up the whole album, really. "All Arise" is definitely the most country/folk sounding song on the track and probably my least favorite, but it's still good. "June Hymn" is by far the most beautiful song on the album. It really has a Bob Dylan/Neil Young sound to it. It is so filled with such sentiment and emotion and is beautifully executed.
"This Is Why We Fight" is my favorite song from the album. It's not really the most popular track, but I LOVE it. I think because it is so unique sounding. It's not really old Decemberists or The King Is Dead Decemberists, really. I just love the sound, I love the rhythm and I love the message of the song. It makes me really happy. The album closes beautifully with "Dear Avery", the slow and somber lover's song.
All in all, The King is Dead is a GREAT album. The Decemberists have indeed reinvented themselves and taken on a new sound with this album while still staying true to their roots. I love you guys!! Please come to Sacramento so I can see you!