The King Is Dead
Label: Rough Trade
The Decemberists continue to prove they are far more than well-read indie-popsters from Portland. After 2009's Hazards of Love, the quintet steps out of prog rock's dense forest and lands on an expansive pasture where accordions, harmonicas and banjos run free. As R.E.M.'s Peter Buck lends some of his 12-string guitar prowess and Gillian Welch adds lightness to standout single "Down By the Water," the folk lilt lifts Colin Meloy's melancholic cries to twangy croons. Though the foot-stompin' melodies fit him well, his usual cutting wordplay has softened some in the sun of this bucolic setting.