Decemberists Turn Out (Another) Great Murder Ballad
Colin Meloy and Co. strip down to somber acoustic guitar and sweet harmonies
Here comes further proof that the Decemberists have regained their footing since 2009’s ungainly don’t-call-it-a-rock-opera The Hazards of Love. What the focused roots-rock of last year’s The King Is Dead lacked in high-stakes derring-do, it more than made up for with 10 sharply written, Americana-tinged tunes. The Portland, Oregon-based band’s latest EP, Long Live the King, suggests more of the same starting with its title, and opening track “E. Watson” — which premiered today over at Paste — doesn’t disappoint. With acoustic guitar, a vibrato-heavy Colin Meloy vocal, and sweet harmonies by Decemberists cohorts Laura Veirs and Annalisa Tornfelt, the stripped-down song recounts the story of turn-of-the-20th-century outlaw Edgar Watson, as immortalized in a 1990s novel trilogy by Peter Matthiessen. Between that title and the Decemberists’ propensity for murder ballads, you can probably guess where this is headed. The six-song EP hits shelves on November 1, and you can watch their recent Austin City Limits appearance here while reading about how keyboardist Jenny Conlee’s cancer is in remission here.