Review Summary: A continued expedition into the folk depths and country sway of new age Americana…
Those who embraced The King is Dead
for its departure from The Decemberists’ normally prog-driven sound will be given one more treat before the end of 2011. Once again delving into Americana, The Decemberists offer us the best cuts from the excluded The King Is Dead
tracks along with a cover of The Grateful Dead’s ‘Row Jimmy.’ From the serene, compassionate ‘Foregone’ to the groovy ‘Sonnet’, the five piece indie band’s latest effort touches on everything that made The King is Dead
such a welcome change. And although it may only qualify as a collection of B-sides, Long Live The King
proves itself to be another vital release in The Decemberists’ increasingly respected catalogue.
Long Live The King
is a mature, predominantly acoustic EP that continues to flush away any traces of the bloated, super pretentious side of a band that once released concept albums like Picaresque
and The Hazards of Love
. ‘E. Watson’ thrives on Colin Meloy’s theatrical voice, which is harmonized with contributing vocalists Laura Veirs and Annalisa Tornfelt to an acoustic guitar backdrop that pronounces the song’s fragility. ‘Foregone’ is perhaps the most relaxing song that The Decemberists have ever written, and it is much akin to ‘Rise to Me’ from The King is Dead
LP. Backed by gentle, rhythmic strumming and the occasional slide guitar, ‘Foregone’ tackles country and folk simultaneously in a fashion true to The Decemberists’ sense of rebirth. The Grateful Dead cover won’t take anyone’s breath away, but it serves its purpose in providing a fresh take on a highly revered classic rock song. It has a chilled-out vibe and sounds appropriately laid back, but it fails to bring out goosebumps the way that the original still does to this day. Not everything on this EP progresses at a slow pace, however, as the regrettably titled but aptly executed ‘I 4 U & U 4 Me’ features an infectious R.E.M.-styled beat with rootsy vocal inflections. ‘Burying Davy’ is another track that packs a punch, starting with nothing but Meloy’s crooning and light guitar picking but gradually building to a crescendo of soulful electric riffs and heavier percussion. From the delicate folk compositions to the energetic alt-rock tunes, The Decemberists bring something worthwhile to the table with each and every song presented on Long Live The King
It may not be a hint at the band’s next direction, much less a reinvention of their sound, but Long Live The King
is still a thoroughly enjoyable celebration of the present. It highlights The Decemberists’ ability to fuse Americana, acoustic folk, country, and alternative rock seamlessly in a way that few other artists in their scene can. Just like they did with The King is Dead
, the band appears to be putting all the pomp and frills on hold (either temporarily or permanently) in order to express themselves in the most fluid and natural sounding way possible. Thus, Long Live the King
serves as a supplemental EP worthy of a glance from the casual listener, and most certainly from every fan.