While the acoustic instrumentation is often simple, it is never boring. Modern stylistic elements are present throughout the tracks, yet somehow a roots-Americana feel runs throughout the album. Violin, harmonica, bouzouki and organ all help to carry the melodies. I’m a sucker for the accordion parts, personally, having dabbled in playing it over the years. There is an abundance of the ol’ squeeze box on The King Is Dead, so well played by Jenny Conlee.
Colin Meloy’s highly-developed lyrics are the glue that ultimately holds this hodgepodge of instruments together. While rarely using folk music’s storytelling approach to lyrics, his modern rock-influenced verse/chorus preference has a way of painting a vivid picture. Of note are the several songs with backing vocals by Gillian Welch. Her smooth, yet powerful harmonies seem to complement Meloy’s intricate lyrics.
Familiarity usually sets in after weeks of listening to a new album. With the catchy, folk-rock anthems of The King Is Dead, you may feel that connection after just the second or third spin.
Written by Joshua Edwards, Music Department.
On the KDHX Charts: #1 on CMJ Top 30 for February 8, 2011. View the chart.
Even more: The Decemberists just announced a show at the Pageant on April 27.