The king has been resurrected quite successfully.
The Portland-based Indie folk rock band The Decemberists have produced a mostly acoustic six-track EP titled Long Live the King, due out today on Capitol Records.
As the title indicates, Long Live the King was recorded around the same time as the group’s hugely successful sixth album from earlier this year, The King is Dead. Long Live the King is a collection of outtakes from that album.
Long Live the King highlights the band’s talent and emotions in a way not present in earlier albums, perhaps reflective of their turbulent past year. From The King is Dead album topping billboard charts in early 2011, to lead singer and songwriter Colin Meloy producing a children’s book, to one of the members of the band getting cancer, The Decemberists have been kept on their toes, and are keeping fans on their toes as well.
In a fashion similar to The King is Dead, Long Live the King mixes storytelling throughout songs with country, folk and rock influences seamlessly — a technique that highlights the band at its peak.
Throughout the Americana-based album, the Decemberists demonstrate their superior ability to tell stories through song by utilizing lyrical imagery. Haunting, nostalgic, catchy and homey, this album is one that will stick with listeners.
“E. Watson” is the premier track of the album, and tells the dark story of a cruel sugar plantation owner in a haunting, acoustic folksong. Meloy’s voice is gravelly over the acoustic guitar and calls out to listeners in a spooky fashion. Laura Veirs and Annalisa Tornfelt’s backup vocals add an eerie touch, singing “we laid him in his grave” repeatedly at the end of the song.
The first few notes of “Foregone” put a smile on your face, and its pleasant melody brings to mind a favorite song you’ve forgotten about. Meloy’s voice sounds earthy and strong over the upbeat drums and bass. The simple country rock song makes you feel like you are at a live, outdoors show listening to the Decemberists play, identifying fully with every word of the lyrical song about incidents that have occurred in the past.
The album also features the creepy “Burying Davy” and the upbeat and fun “I 4 U & U 4 Me,” which tells the story of two individuals who are messed up, yet meant to be together. The album also includes an amazing cover of Grateful Dead’s “Row Jimmy.” The EP concludes with “Sonnet,” an enchanting and breezy track. Yet, the horns in the song come as a shock, making the song a bit too honky-tonky, and thus the weakest track of the album.
Long Live the King won’t be the chart-topper that The King is Dead was. However, it’s an album that true Decemberists fans will love and appreciate for its indie, intricate manner.
4 stars out of 5