The Decemberists have a penchant for instruments usually found in polka bands, churches and orchestras. Among this musical diversity, their new album The King is Dead somehow finds peace, tolerance and a middle ground. Their lyrics are a Pandora’s box of the musical world- sometimes morbid and yet sometimes hopeful too.
“Don’t Carry It All” draws you in and gets the excitement flowing, while “This is Why We Fight” has the most vibrant sound perfect for draining your energy before the album’s conclusion. The “Calamity Song,” with its guitar picking and “ah ooh” chorus is by far their best of the 10 songs, despite its morbidity.
Compared to their earlier work, The King is Dead is clearly influenced by American country, blues and folk, rather than their earlier works that were steeped in British revival.
Overall, the album has a great sound and it’s refreshing to see the band try a non-concept album, but they struggle with their lyricism. The meaning of each song is harder to decipher than it should be. It’s a good effort, but it’s not perfect.