Album Review : The King Is Dead - The Decemberists 6*
I must say that I am disappointed by this latest album from The Decemberists, not that I was expecting to get another blast of Black Sabbath riff inflected rock opera as the band delivered with The Hazards Of Love, but this country tinged album sounds flat and lazy when compared to much of the band's back catalogue.
Hazards was an album that divided the band's fans, a shocking departure from whimsical folk into prog rock for some, a welcome and cherished broadening of The Decemberists musical style for others. It might also be a little odd to expect the band to put out another album that sounds like The Crane Wife with its epic 10 minute plus. What could be hoped for though was something with just a little more life and verve than TKID possesses, both in songwriting and delivery, The Decemberists have done better than this.
As with Hazards, TKID features guest artists, Gillian Welch provides vocals on several songs, and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck provides guitars, indeed Down By The Water sounds very much like a song from Buck's full time job.
TKID isn't a dead loss though, on January Hymn Colin Melloy's plaintive vocals and the gently picked guitars combine to produce a beautiful and ethereal song, Rox In The Box sung with just a bit more pazazz would have been another Chimbley Sweep or Cautionary Song. Elsewhere though the album sounds tired and jaded, The Decemberists have scaled musical mountains in their earlier work, but TKID is dawdling in the foothills.