2011 releases

The Decemberists – The King is Dead

So I’ve purposely held off posting about this one because, to be honest, with all the conflicting reviews that were coming out of this record before it was even officially released it was hard to go into it with an open mind.

Here’s the thing: “The King Is Dead” definitely plays like one of the easiest albums The Decemberists have ever put out. This is good, in that it’s easily their most accessible release in years, bad in the fact that it pisses off a lot of music bloggers who seem to have expected more from them. That said, it’s probably a tough, tough world we live in when a record that sounds like it was “easy” to make is a bad thing. After all, simplicity is sometimes deceivingly complex.

Actually, Colin Meloy spoke exactly to this point recently, when he said of the album:

“It’s a real challenge to make simple music, and lot of times we had to deliberately hold off and keep more space. This record is an exercise in restraint.

Sometimes I kind of miss the epic-ness of the other albums, but it’s nice to get all of the information across in three minutes. It’s like going from reading a novel to reading a bunch of short stories.”

So what’s my take on the album? It’s good.
The tunes on here are instantly listenable, and for someone who likes excessive playing of the harp – like myself – then you’ll love this album. And there are some serious highlights in here, particularly the much-spread “Down by the Water”, and “Don’t Carry It All”.

The problem, though?

I just called it a “good” album.

Listen: The Decemberists – Don’t Carry It All

2 replies on “The Decemberists – The King is Dead”

I avoided reading the blogs until after I had listened to it, and I really enjoy it. Older Decemberist’s albulms grew stale and I rarely find myself listening to them anymore. Didn’t even buy Hazards of Love. After listening to it from the library, I didn’t even rip it onto the hard drive. This album will be a friend to the ears for years to come. I think its the feeling of spring that pervades the songs. Much needed here in wind swept Wyoming.

Hi Ryan,
Thanks for the comment. Yeah, one thing I meant to mention in the above post was that I also had a “Thank goodness this is a recovery from Hazards of Love” kind of feeling with this album. Despite some of the critical love it got, I just could not jive with that album. This one I can.

I’m going to be interested to see how the album weathers. For example, I have no doubt that I’ll return to picaresque for years and years still to come. With this album have the same effect? Time will tell.

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