The King Is Dead - The Decemberists
The  King Is Dead Image
Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 64 Ratings

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  • Summary: The Portland-based band returns with less rock and more atmospheric, orchestral arrangements with a little bit of country-folk thrown in as well.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 38
  2. Negative: 1 out of 38
  1. Jan 21, 2011
    100
    The Decemberists blend rock and folk well (there's even a nod to the famous Raggle Taggle Gypsy Man in a riff on Rox In The Box) and the songwriting crafts pastoral and emotional imaginery into tight-knit, attractive songs. This album is an unexpected treat.
  2. On The King is Dead, The Decemberists decided to fully immerse themselves in a style they've flirted with for years.
  3. Jan 24, 2011
    80
    The Decemberists' most immediate and outgoing album. [Feb 2011, p.76]
  4. Mar 9, 2011
    77
    A good few years on from the rise and partial Fall of the Decemberists, Meloy and Co. are managing, still, to carry the fire.
  5. Jan 18, 2011
    70
    This latest offering is a finessed folk-rock record to bring a little taste of long summer evening drives to the glacial January gloom.
  6. Jan 6, 2011
    70
    The King Is Dead feels more like a full-band Decemberists album than nearly anything they've done before, and much less like The Colin Meloy Show of the last two records. [Year End 2010, p.68]
  7. Jan 18, 2011
    20
    No, at best, The King Is Dead is a patchwork of genre exercises, giving listeners little more than a chance to play "spot the influence." But even then it fails, for it taps only a very shallow stream of tradition, focusing on a series of folk facsimiles from the 70s and 80s that never quite add up to the real thing.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 16
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 16
  3. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Feb 23, 2011
    10
    For The King Is Dead, elaborateness gives way to restraint, and it works. Oh yes...thank goodness we still have some of those noble history-recalling Decemberists lyrics we all love. But we also get a direct and hefty dose of R.E.M. influence in the person of that bandâ Expand
  2. Jun 6, 2011
    10
    It seems I remember a lot of questioning when the Boss put out the River. Like, What is he doing? and Where's the Jersey shore sound? Turned out the Nashville influenced River was a great album! So, is The King is Dead. Missing the thematic schemes the Decemberists are known for, the album is a collection of cross-over mountain music songs. That ring through the country side with historic stories and why we Care! This is not Mark Knophler getting lost in the OPRY. Although, there might be a little to much harmonica, the signature sea shanty lilt can be found in a couple cuts. The main point here is once again we hear the outstanding lyrics of Meloy in our heads as we fall asleep at night! Enjoy this album, it's much better than the first listen reveals! Expand
  3. Jan 22, 2011
    10
    This is an awesome album. One of my favorites from The Decemberists. They finally switched up their genre and the rock/pop feeling they go for is nailed perfectly. There is no weak track in this entire album and is worth every cent. Buy it. Expand
  4. Apr 27, 2011
    9
    I am puzzled by the mixed reaction to the album. I think it is hands down their best collection of songs. Yes, it is somewhat less literate and grandiose than their other works. It also doesn't hold together conceptually the way most of the other ones do. I love the fact that is less musically and lyrically dense and more direct. The Hazards of Love and The Crane Wife are great albums, but this is Colin Meloy and company's finest and most memorable work. It doesn't strike me as a compromise or less distinctive. There is not a weak track and many of them are excellent. Expand
  5. Jul 14, 2012
    8
    This is Colin Meloy's excellent songwriting, sans the inane Baroque love stories and overly embellished vocabulary. Definitely their most accessible release to date, which surely means some of their longtime fans will probably hate it because it's too "mainstream" or something. You'll like it, though. Expand
  6. Feb 4, 2011
    8
    An album that is neither a feat nor a failure; it is simply music. This may be to your liking, or perhaps not. Depending on what kind of mood you are in, or what kind of listener you are in general. The King is Dead is very listenable in my opinion. It has a pristine sound to it, as usual with the Decemberists, but also steps out of its box. This is not a general Decemberists album, it is very much like a Neil Young album with a Decemberists twist to it. The harmonica is a great player on the album. Kudos to the Decemberists for giving us something interesting to listen to. Expand
  7. Jan 26, 2011
    7
    I'm not sure if the Decemberists are capable (anymore, I didn't care for their first release) of making an album you could rate less than a '7' when compared to other albums being released by other artists. Given, initially this LP sounded like the kind of EP an artist puts out to hold you over 'til the next great thing they always seem to do. I thought they backslid just a tad on their 'concept' album, but after the two previous albums, a '9' and a '10' in my opinion, I could forgive it and wait for the next CLASSIC. But I think even the band knew this wasn't gonna be it. I like it though. Unassuming, and it definitely has it's moments. Expand

See all 16 User Reviews