While a lot has been made of “The King Is Dead” being a more country or Americana-leaning set, the ‘90s guitar rock makes quite an appearance, too. Particularly on “Down By the Water” (hey jealousy?) and “Calamity Song,” frontman and songwriter Colin Meloy allowed for a specific showcasing of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, doing what he does.
Buck’s contribution (or perhaps Chris Funk’s) on “This Is Why We Fight” really ties the room together and makes for one of the best songs the Decemberists have ever made. The drumming is tight; the chugga chug of acoustic properly preps the listener for this tiny war, capped by a fireside postmortem from Gillian Welch.
And it’s Welch’s voice that helps make this album stand out as more than wallflower music. Opener and single “Don’t Carry It All,” sweetened with tittering mandolins and harmonica, feature simple harmonies from the alt-country great, like a good omen that hangs over the rest of “King.”
[More after the jump...]