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Tuesday, 15 February 2011 10:24

Charting the Music: The Decemberists, 'The King Is Dead'

Charting the Music: The Decemberists, 'The King Is Dead'
Written by Joshua Edwards
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Editor's Note: In this series, the KDHX Music Department spotlights a new release that's hot on the 88.1 charts.

The Decemberists’ latest release, The King Is Dead, puts a unique spin on a familiar genre while continuing to please the band's fans. To my ears, the Decemberists were out to prove only one thing with this release: a back-to-basics approach is all that is needed to create music worth hearing.

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.

This album can be heard on: Goldsoundz, Emotional Rescue and the Pop Life.

Even more: The Decemberists just announced a show at the Pageant on April 27.

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