The Decemberists play Sound Academy Tuesday (February 1). See listing. Rating: NNN
The concise arrangements and country rock tone of this album feel like a 180-degree turn from the sprawling, overly ambitious prog folk of the Decemberists' divisive last album, The Hazards Of Love. It's much more accessible, a fact that's been reflected in strong sales but also lukewarm reviews from fans of the band's more adventurous side.
Main man Colin Meloy has said that R.E.M. were a big influence on The King Is Dead, and they even brought in Peter Buck to lay down some guitar tracks, but the results are much more conventionally twangy than anything the Athens, Georgia, band ever recorded. While it's initially odd to hear them going for such a musically conservative vibe, The King Is Dead is very listenable. It's a solid album with strong production and songwriting, but it won't blow any minds.
Top track: Dear Avery