Brainy, political, folky, indie... all of the adjectives used to describe The Decemberists' past work apply to their new album "The King is Dead," which will be released in the U.S. on January 18 and is streaming here now on NPR.
Several of the 10 songs address the war in Iraq including "This Is Why We Fight" and "Dear Avery," a song from a mother begging her soldier son to come home safely.
The album is inspired by classic REM albums, perhaps best exemplified by "Down by the Water," the single and sixth song on the album, which can be downloaded for free here. Guests Gillian Welch and Peter Buck appear on that and several other tracks.
The album as a whole maintains the highly literate tone of past albums, further solidifying this Portland, Oregon-based band as the reigning kings of smart rock. "The King is Dead." Long live the kings.