The Decemberists latest album, The King Is Dead, is a catchy, interesting exploration of the Americana style. The folk/roots rock path ends up being a much better vessel for their revival theme, although their sixth outing does, at times, feel like a radio-friendly, packaged version of the Portland, Oregon band.
In 2007, the Decemberists attempted to embark on a themed tour, "The Long and Short Of I," that was cancelled after the first two nights in Chicago, the band citing a mysterious health issue. Those shows at the Vic Theater were some of the most exciting and fun I'd ever been to. Colin Meloy, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, and John Moen reenacted the St. Valentine's Day massacre in the audience, had a dance off, and in the end, a giant paper mache whale ate everyone.
Since then, they've gone on a orchestral tour, campaigned for Obama, and released a conceptual rock opera. The King is Dead finds the group returning to their roots, while recapturing some of the qualities of their early albums.
"Down By The Water" is an energetic folk anthem, "Calamity Song" sounds like a jolly, twangy take on an Arcade Fire tune, and "All Arise" comes in violins ablaze, piano keys planking, encapsulating their wooden nautical theme. The album closes spiraling away as "Dear Avery" twirls apart.
Casual Decemberists fans should enjoy this album while die-hards might miss some of the the more grandiose anthems, but still, The King Is Dead is an enjoyable addition to the Decemberists' discography.