The King Is Dead (album)

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The King Is Dead
The Decemberists - The King Is Dead.jpg
Studio album by The Decemberists
Released January 14, 2011 (2011-01-14)[1]
Recorded Early 2010
Studio Pendarvis Farm, near Portland, Oregon
Genre Indie folk, indie rock, folk rock, Americana[2]
Length 40:26
Label Capitol and Rough Trade
Producer Tucker Martine
The Decemberists chronology
The Hazards of Love
(2009)The Hazards of Love2009
The King Is Dead
What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
(2015)What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World2015
Singles from The King Is Dead
  1. "Down by the Water"
    Released: November 2010
  2. "This Is Why We Fight"
    Released: January 25, 2011[3]
  3. "Calamity Song"
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars[5]
The Boston Phoenix2.5/4 stars[7]
Consequence of Sound4/5 stars[8]
Pitchfork Media7.2/10[9]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[10]
The Skinny4/5 stars[11]
Slant Magazine3.5/5 stars[12]
SPIN7/10 stars[13]

The King Is Dead is the sixth studio album by The Decemberists, released on Capitol Records on January 14, 2011.[1] Described as the "most pastoral, rustic record they've ever made" by Douglas Wolk of Rolling Stone,[14] the album reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart for the week ending February 5, 2011.[15] The song "This Is Why We Fight" reached number 19 on the U.S Alternative Songs Chart, while the song "Down by the Water" also charted in the United States. In November 2011, the band released an EP of album out-takes, entitled Long Live the King.

Prior to the album's release, frontman Colin Meloy stated: "If there's anything academic about this record, or me trying to force myself in a direction, it was realising that the last three records were really influenced by the British folk revival [...] this whole world that I was discovering, that I was poring over, learning inside-out. It was a wanting to get away from that. And looking back into more American traditions, reconnecting with more American music."[16]


The King Is Dead was recorded during spring 2010,[17] with most of it being made in a six-week period in a barn at an 80-acre (320,000 m2) site called Pendarvis Farm, near Portland, Oregon.[14] It has been speculated that the album title is an homage to The Smiths' 1986 album The Queen Is Dead,[18] largely due to Colin Meloy's long-touted influence from the band.[19] It was co-produced by Tucker Martine.[14] At least three of the ten songs—"Down by the Water", "Rise to Me" and "June Hymn"—were performed live in 2010.[20] Meloy has said that a primary musical influence for much of The King Is Dead is R.E.M.,[21] and three songs, "Don't Carry It All", "Calamity Song" and "Down by the Water", feature the R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.[22] The album was released on January 18, 2011.[23] The King Is Dead has been called the "most pastoral, rustic record they've ever made" by Douglas Wolk of Rolling Stone.[14] On January 26, 2011, it became their first No. 1 album on the U.S. album chart.[24]

On November 1, 2011, the outtakes EP Long Live the King was released, collecting six songs recorded during these sessions.


The King is Dead received a 77 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Uncut placed the album at number 26 on its list of "Top 50 albums of 2011",[25] while Rolling Stone ranked the album the 7th best of 2011.[26]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Colin Meloy.

1."Don't Carry It All"4:17
2."Calamity Song"3:50
3."Rise to Me"4:59
4."Rox in the Box"3:10
5."January Hymn"3:14
6."Down by the Water"3:42
7."All Arise!"3:10
8."June Hymn"3:58
9."This Is Why We Fight"5:30
10."Dear Avery"4:52


According to the liner notes of The King Is Dead.

The Decemberists[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Peter Buck – mandolin on "Don't Carry It All", 12-string electric guitar on "Calamity Song", electric guitar and baritone guitar on "Down by the Water"
  • David Rawlings – backing vocals on "Don't Carry It All", "June Hymn" and "Dear Avery"
  • Gillian Welch – backing vocals on "Don't Carry It All", "Rise to Me", "Rox in the Box", "Down by the Water", "All Arise!", "June Hymn" and "Dear Avery"
  • Laura Veirs – backing vocals on "Dear Avery"
  • Annalisa Tornfelt – violin on "Don't Carry It All", "Rox in the Box" and "All Arise!"
  • Tucker Martine – tambourine on "Calamity Song"



The Decemberists claim their first No. 1 album as "The King Is Dead" debuts atop the Billboard 200 with a career-high 94,000 sold in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. [27] As of August 2011 it has sold 275,000 copies. [28]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Label Format Catalog
United States January 14, 2011 (2011-01-14) Capitol Records Vinyl LP 42727[1]
United Kingdom January 17, 2011 (2011-01-17) Rough Trade Records, Capitol Records Compact Disc RTRADCDX656[29]
United States January 18, 2011 (2011-01-18) Capitol Records 50999 9 47547 2 8[30]


  1. ^ a b c "The King Is Dead (Capitol Records, Vinyl LP Album) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved Feb 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ Barshad, Amos (November 3, 2010). "The Decemberists Let It Swag". New York magazine. New York Media LLC. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ Radiol1 Rodos Greece ::: USA Forthcoming Singles
  4. ^ "Reviews for The King Is Dead by The Decemberists - Metacritic". Metacritic. 
  5. ^ James Christopher Monger. "The King Is Dead - The Decemberists - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  6. ^ "BBC - Music - Review of The Decemberists - The King Is Dead". 
  7. ^ "The Decemberists The King Is Dead". Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Decemberists – The King Is Dead - Album Reviews - Consequence of Sound". Consequence of Sound. 
  9. ^ "The Decemberists". Pitchfork. 
  10. ^ "The Decemberists The King Is Dead Album Review". Rolling Stone. 
  11. ^ "The Decemberists – The King Is Dead". 
  12. ^ Jonathan Keefe (14 January 2011). "The Decemberists: The King Is Dead - Album Review - Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. 
  13. ^ "The Decemberists, 'The King Is Dead' Review". SPIN. 
  14. ^ a b c d Wolk, Douglas (November 4, 2010). "Colin Meloy Reveals Details of New Decemberists Album". Rolling Stone. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Billboard 200 Week-Ending Feb 5 '11". Billboard. Feb 5, 2011. 
  16. ^ Barton, Laura (January 6, 2011). "The Decemberists: The changing of the seasons". The Guardian. London. 
  17. ^ "The Decemberists | News 11.2.10". The Decemberists Official site. November 2, 2010. Archived from the original on November 8, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  18. ^ Wawzenek, Bryan (November 3, 2010). "Decemberists Announce New Album". Gibson. Gibson Guitar Corporation. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  19. ^ Luerssen, John D. (November 3, 2010). "The Decemberists Announce 'The King Is Dead' Album, Offer Free Song". Spinner. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  20. ^ Puiu, Tibi (November 2, 2010). "New Decemberists album announced – The King is Dead". ZME Music. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  21. ^ Zeidses des Plantes, Erik (November 3, 2010). "Down by the water". Prefix magazine. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Rihanna and Katy Perry's Duet & More". Spin Magazine. SPIN MEDIA LLC. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  23. ^ "The Decemberists Announce New Album". Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork Media Inc. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  24. ^ Caulfield, Keith (January 26, 2011). "Folk-rock band Decemberists lead U.S. album chart". Reuters. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Uncut's Top 50 Albums Of 2011 - Stereogum". Stereogum. 
  26. ^ "The Decemberists, 'The King Is Dead'". Rolling Stone. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "The King Is Dead (Rough Trade / Capitol Records, CD Album, UK) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved Jan 25, 2011. 
  30. ^ Capitol CD release @ Discogs

External links[edit]