The Decemberists
Long Live the King


3.0
good

Review

by Caleb McAlpine USER (109 Reviews)
November 1st, 2011 | 12 replies | 3,403 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: bonus tales from a band impervious to (full-length) imperfection

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Exactly one decade ago, Colin Meloy somehow scrounged up enough pocket and chesterfield change to record a shoddily produced EP of early-Decemberists fame named 5 Songs. Since this humble inception, this most-verbose band bound not by the constraints of folk music nor the english language itself have treated us to ten years of brilliant songwriting - brilliance that our newest darling EP Long Live the King offsets, compliments and refutes all at once. Whereas previous EPs The Tain and Always the Bridesmaid both foreshadowed future Decemberists’ work (prog-operas and folk-pop singles, respectively), Long Live the King is the first collection of bite-sized Meloyisms to look, for once, behind itself. As the appropriate aftershock to last winter’s return-to-form folk bomb The King Is Dead, this second royal visit pays due diligence to the stripped-back ‘n R.E.M.-lovin’ album that precedes it and only occasionally sounds like the blooper reel it truly is. Long Live the King is the b-sides album only a band of Meloy quality could record: three strokes of genius paired with three misfires only Meloy’s charm and freshly grown beard could ever indemnify.

But for a while, even the sharpest of discerners could be fooled into thinking this EP isn’t really a collection of outtakes or b-sides at all. A beddable set of storytelling gems with the charm of Picaresque and the spunk of ‘Don’t Carry It All’ open up Long Live the King impeccably. Meloy’s voice is at its finest as he slyly sings “bold the brave, brave ocean and roll the suckers in” and the steel guitar love-making of ‘The Hazards Of Love 4 (The Drowned)’ makes a pleasant cameo in the rootsy ‘Foregone’. And although E. Watson’s harmonies are fine as can be, no song is stronger than ‘Burying Davy’ - an eery song of morbid storytelling not heard of since The Crane Wife’s boogey-man ‘Shankill Butchers’. And while the celebratory ‘The Rake Song’ came close in 2009, The Decemberists haven’t written such a concise, prog-free yet entirely theatrical song since Picaresque days and when Meloy sings ”Mother wept no tears at burying Davy”, you could almost convince yourself we’ve gone back in time. And as special of a treat as nostalgia is to long-term Decemberists fans, no treat is grander than a well-written song - ‘Burying Davy’, along with its two Long Live the King opening co-stars, happen to be both.

But unfortunately, as soon as ‘I 4 U & U 4 Me’ starts sounding as trite as its namesake, Meloy starts slipping up. But it’s not that 90s-folk-rock aping tune nor Meloy’s poorly used falsetto in ‘Sonnet’ that kills the King’s reign quickest: no, the sloppy, honk-n-tonk Grateful Dead cover ‘Row Jimmy’ manages to dishonour the Decemberists as much as it does its source material. Whether the click track was playing too quietly or whether the entire recording team entered an in-studio coma, nothing clicks on ‘Row Jimmy’ and nothing succeeds either. But, to be fair, a hiccup or three never killed a man and ‘Row Jimmy’, forgettable as it is, can’t be the bronchitis to this metaphor. As a b-sides EP, Long Live the King fairs better than most of its kind and is about on par with the band’s other non-The Tain EP affairs. In the end, songs as strong as ‘E. Watson’ and ‘Burying Davy’ prove that Long Live the King is a release that still can be celebrated and ultimately respected by any Decemberists fan. But let me tell you, hell would’ve frozen over were this a full-length album.



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Will Forest (4.5)
:D...

Mike Allen (3.5)
...

SowingSeason STAFF (3.5)
A continued expedition into the folk depths and country sway of new age Americana…...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
November 1st 2011



11451 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Colin Meloy's beard: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lq1um7LTaC1qihw89o1_500.jpg

Burying Davy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tBHuczQecE

And since Sowing did a bang-up job on this, you may be able to notice at what point I stop caring about this review's quality. But I just have so many good things to say about Burying Davy...

MO
November 1st 2011



18523 Comments


You've entered beast mode lately huh. Nice review man.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
November 1st 2011



10593 Comments


Someone has definitely been on the ball. Really glad to see it too. This is a great review, Waior, but I'm sorry, I simply do not care for this band.

klap
Staff Reviewer
November 1st 2011



10329 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

are you using "folk bomb" in a positive sense?

Digging: Literature - Chorus

NeutralThunder12
November 1st 2011



8742 Comments


come on xeno try the crane wife, fantastic album

mallen-
November 1st 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool stuff Caleb

kinda like this better than the full-length

Waior
November 2nd 2011



11451 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

rudy, yes, bomb as in an explosion in that one michael bay movie that doesn't suck. i'm not sure why i chose that word tbh

thanks guys! and yeah, i don't think i've ever reviewed four days in a review before. beast mode sounds nice

i like half of this just as much as the full-length and the other hurts a bit

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
November 2nd 2011



15893 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review

I agree with everything you said, I just gave it an extra half a star in my rating

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
November 2nd 2011



6443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really like this EP, and probably "I 4 U & U 4 Me" the most. It's so darn catchy.

Good review as per usual, Waior.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

WatchItExplode
November 3rd 2011



3227 Comments


Decemberists always win me over, this is no exception

glad to see you're still with us Caleb......

klap
Staff Reviewer
November 3rd 2011



10329 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

word, usually when i see bomb though i think of it in the sense of "that shitty michael bay movie that bombed"

Waior
November 3rd 2011



11451 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah i never think of that but I need to start thinking of that otherwise I look inconsistent with my king is dead ratings!



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