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Old 01-25-2011, 11:10 PM   #1
Sizzlin' Sicilian
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Surprising Simplicity: A Review of the Decemberist's Fresh New Album The King is Dead

The Decemberists new album <em>The King is Dead </em>has gotten mostly positive feedback despite the fact that it wasn’t what anyone was expecting. The simplicity of this album is quite refreshing.* The low-key country vibe is an interesting leap from their previous album, <em>The Hazards of Love</em>: a 17-track collection of songs with more symbolism than a Hawthorne novel.

This time the lyrics are not so theatrical but don’t lack the emotion of their previous work and apparently there are a few hidden meanings in their newest endeavor also.* Something about this particular album of theirs sounds more genuine than the previous ones.

Personally, I am a fan of the harmonica in the first track as if to say to the listeners, “Hey! This is another album and we did something a bit different!” "Don’t Carry it All"<em> </em>has a sweet tune that makes a great opening for the rest of the tracks on the*album. The first few moments it is obviously a different brand of awesome than their previous work.

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<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-14394" title="dec2resized" src="http://www.interference.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/dec2resized.jpg" alt="" width="260" height="201" />

Though much of it has an easy, happy beat to accompany the lyrics, the song "Rise to Me"<em> </em>is my absolute favorite. The track is not a complete downer, but it is more downtrodden than the other songs on this album. The steel guitar and Colin Meloy’s vocals are vaguely reminiscent of the Grand Old Opry, but the drums and female vocals keep it from sounding too honky-tonk.

This album is easy to enjoy if you choose to dissect the lyrics or just jam to it in the car on your way to work. I didn’t expect to hear the variety of country/blue grass instruments in this album, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear the fiddle on "Rox In the Box." *Despite the simplicity of this album, Meloy and guest collaborator Gillian Welch both used a good bit of their vocal ranges, which really made this album stand out from the traditional kinds of bluegrass-y tunes.

Though I enjoyed their last album, which many claimed was melodramatic, this one topped it for me. <em>The King is Dead</em> conjures images of back porches and fields of hay but not in a cliché’ way.

<strong>Sarah Townsend</strong>

<strong><span style="font-weight: normal;"><em>The Decemberists dropped The King is Dead on January 18 2011 on Capitol Records. www.decemberists.com</em></span></strong>

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