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The King Is Dead [CD]

The Decemberists Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
Price: 11.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
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Life as a musician means continual evolution. Over the course of a career, any band worth paying attention to will pursue a sound, a direction, until it triggers a different idea and they’re chasing some other distant dream. With their sixth album, The King Is Dead, The Decemberists illustrate the power that comes from this kind of creative call-and-response.
When the band completed ... Read more in Amazon's The Decemberists Store

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Frequently Bought Together

The King Is Dead + The Hazards Of Love + Crane Wife
Price For All Three: 36.56

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  • The Hazards Of Love 12.40
  • Crane Wife 12.86

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product details

  • Audio CD (17 Jan 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Rough Trade Records
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,484 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Don't Carry It All 4:170.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Calamity Song 3:490.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Rise To Me 4:590.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Rox In The Box 3:090.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. January Hymn 3:130.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Down By The Water 3:410.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. All Arise! 3:090.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. June Hymn 3:570.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. This Is Why We Fight 5:300.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Dear Avery 4:510.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

BBC Review

The last time we heard from The Decemberists, on 2009’s The Hazards of Love, they were lost in the dense forest of a prog-inflected, 17-track experimental concept album. A mythic folk-rock opera of vaudevillian villains, fairies and doomed earthly lovers that was inspired by Anne Briggs’ 1963 a cappella folk EP, it saw the band’s smart, savvy songwriting overdressed as gothic folly. Making it "took a lot out of" singer Colin Meloy – and listening to it, many fans felt the same way.

Fortunately, rather than releasing an even more grandiose, darkly dramatic follow-up, they’ve chipped off the embellishments, reined in the pomp and walked towards the light. The bookish Portland five-piece started life as indie-mongers with a penchant for English folk, and their sixth album recaptures their youth, only now they’ve shifted their allegiance back over the pond. Despite, bizarrely, being titled like a riposte to The Smiths, The King Is Dead – which was recorded in a remote barn for maximum country flavour – is their Americana record, where the sun dapples the water and you can’t move but hit your Stetson on a twanging acoustic guitar.

Or, in this case, on an authenticity-boosting guest musician – roots luminary Gillian Welch lends her vocals to several tracks, and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck strums on three. But even without their help, this album would have been convincing. It is, simply, a thing of beauty, its hook quotient the highest of The Decemberists’ discography. The scaled-down (for them – these things are relative) arrangements ebb and flow, as Neil Young-ian harmonica and mandolin anthems (Don’t Carry It All) and sing-along gypsy stomps (Rox in the Box) are hushed by delicate, gorgeously melodic meditations with simple guitar accompaniment (January Hymn). The lyrics, appropriately, aren’t as abstruse as usual, though they’ll still keep sales of the OED healthy.

The only downside – apart from the lumbering plodder Rise to Me, which has a hay-chewing instrumental – is that some of Meloy’s acknowledged inspiration arrives too directly from its source. After listening to Reckoning, he set out to write an homage to R.E.M. and seems to have succeeded a little too well. Still, at least Buck isn’t likely to sue. 

--Alix Buscovic

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Decemberists - Long live the king 17 Jan 2011
Format:Audio CD
"The King is Dead" the new and sixth album by Portland's finest "The Decemberists" sees Colin Meloy and chums return with an album of much more straightforward songs than their previous theatrical concept outing "The Hazards of Love". The consequence for this reviewer is unadulterated pleasure since while Hazards was an impressive piece of work it is the Decemberists of the "Picaresque" era which really starts the pulses racing. Having listened to this album for two weeks streaming on NPR you will find a hugely accessible and accomplished set full of crisp Americana based songs with enough hooks to catch mackerel as evidenced by the thumping opener "Don't carry it all". In the background throughout "TKID" you will also detect the influence of two master musicians namely the jangle guitar miester Peter Buck from REM and one of gods representatives on earth, Gillian Welch the great Appalachian style country singer who sings on seven of the ten tracks.

Listen to the huge alt country ballad "Rise to me" or the gentling rolling "All arise" full of guitars, fiddle, accordion, harmonica and pedal steel to detect Welch's direct influence and it is a force for good. Not that this greater simplicity has blunted Meloy's wordy gymnastics. Anyone who can rhyme "enzymes" with "fault line" deserves a pat on the back as does the use of REM style "Reckoning" era motifs in the brilliant "Calamity song". The rollicking "Rox in the box" sounds like a nod to Mike Scott and his folk fest "Room to roam" and for good measure the Decemberists throw in a snatch of the folk standard "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" to add spice. Meloy's acoustic guitar picked ballads are always lovely and sumptuous and "January Hymn" is one of his finest yet and will one day figure on the "Best of the Decemberists".
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A return to form. 29 Jan 2011
Format:Audio CD
For 'The King Is Dead', it seems that The Decemberists have gone backwards to go forwards. This album echoes the sound of their earlier albums, and not 2009's 'The Hazards of Love', an album that polarized both fans and critics. As you will see across many reviews, this album has a simpler sound, though that certainly isn't a criticism. The majority of the songs clock in at around 3 minutes and immediately hit the mark upon your first listen. Some songs are sombre, and some simply put a smile on your face, it accompanies every type of emotion. From the beautiful melodies to the sometimes soul-searching lyrics, this is an album that you won't regret buying, and one that you'll find yourself listening to for quite some time!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simplicity hits the spot 26 Jan 2011
By Mr. J. Milton VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
2009's `The Hazards Of Love' saw something of a culmination for The Decemberists, of albums so steeped in invention and ingenuity that they bordered on becoming intimidating to a casual listener. But their latest release sees a bold departure from the conceptual thought that defined previous works - embracing said casual listener, `The King Is Dead' is The Decemberists in their most simple, most endearing form.

But in doing the good deed and stepping aside from writing albums as complex as their past two (`The Crane Wife' builds upon a tale from Japanese folklore, whilst `The Hazards Of Love', spanning an entire hour, was self-described as a rock opera), by simplifying everything, they've taken the risk of alienating an adoring and loyal fan base hanging on Colin Meloy's every move. It is essentially a no-win situation. Except from the fact that in `The King Is Dead', we're given songs so charming and immediate that you can forgive the five-piece for settling down for the first time in their ten-year tenure as one of the more complex and intriguing bands around.

`The King Is Dead' pays a direct and noticeable homage to R.E.M and in particular their second album, 1984's `Reckoning'. Having listened to the record, Meloy took it upon himself to re-ignite that flame and incorporate R.E.M's own style of song-writing into his band's work. To complete this alter-ego, he hired guitarist Peter Buck to assist in making something wholesome and true to the plan.

And from `Calamity Song's triumphant chorus onwards, it begins to dawn on you just how very stark R.E.M's influence is.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year already ? 22 Jan 2011
By macfab
Format:Audio CD
I've got a confession to make.I'm a bit of a closet proggy. There it's out now. So when I heard the Cranewife a couple of years ago my ears pricked up. It's the first time I heard the Decemberists and thought the album was excellent. Then along came The Hazards Of Love, the Decemberists's equivalent of Yes's Tales From The Topographic Ocean. The proggy part of my musical psyche enjoyed it but other parts protested, complaining of overblown pretension. So the pre-ordered, latest offering was awaited with guarded apprehension. Were we going to get more pomp or what ? Well, the what turns out to be a set of carefully crafted, what, on the surface sounds like fairly simple songs, but don't be fooled. Still waters run deep, just like these songs. From the beautiful simplicity of January Hymn to the catchy Rox In The Box, every song is superbly crafted with tunes you can't get out of your head. There's enough in Colin Meloy's lyrics to keep you interested, but you wouldn't expect anything less. Last year I wrote that Nathalie Merchant's Leave Your Sleep was my album of the year. Now in the midst of January, I'll be pleasantly surprised if I hear anything better during the rest of the year. I'm looking forward to seeing them live in Bexhill this coming March.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good album that's made for the car. Delivered on time and in great...
Very good service. I selected this item as a gift for my wife. I ordered it with no issues and it arrived on time in excellent condition. A very good and easy to use service.
Published 8 months ago by Alan Pithie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Album
I've been a long time fan of the Decemberists and they seem to be one of those rare bands that continually make great music without sounding too samey. worth a shot!
Published 15 months ago by Rohan Hope
5.0 out of 5 stars mighty fine
I thought picaresque was their finest work but this certainly gives it a run for its money. not a dud song on the album
Published 18 months ago by RevDitch
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful example of folk revival
This album is refreshing, after all the mainstream pop-punk or R n' B that's around The Decemberists provide alternative-country from Portland, Oregon - USA and do it extremely... Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2012 by ktvowles
4.0 out of 5 stars Still just out of Perfection's Reach
With their previous record, the highly theatrical, experimental, Hazards of Love, The Decemberists had reached the peak of their storytelling powers, but the record itself was... Read more
Published on 20 July 2012 by JJKelsall
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like this...
The King is Dead was my introduction to the Decemberists, with some great tracks (and a few duffers). Since then I have been exploring the back catalogue, to wit... Read more
Published on 23 Mar 2012 by Ian Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Live The King!
I love this band and so I may be a bit biased but this is a cracker. I really like the sound of this band. Its 10 out of 10 from me!
Published on 5 Jan 2012 by Lightening-Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Nowhere
I picked up this CD by seeing 'what other people' have bought against another artist that I possess. Read more
Published on 15 Dec 2011 by Kareena
5.0 out of 5 stars Just great listening
What a great, fun album to listen to. its a million miles away from their last album but equaly good for different reasons. Read more
Published on 7 Dec 2011 by Bazmeister
5.0 out of 5 stars great listen
This is a great collection of country/ folk and with Gillian Welsh on backing vocals it is high recommendation indeed. The second half of the album is particularly impressive. Read more
Published on 26 Nov 2011 by chipper
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