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The Decemberists dial back the conceptual crazy on new, country-inspired album

Coming off the ambitious, sorta loopy medieval rape victim rock opera The Hazards Of Love, apparently even The Decemberists wished they would take it down a notch—hence the forthcoming The King Is Dead, which the band’s press release trumpets as “a deliberate turn towards simplicity.” Aided in part by R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and roots-rocker Gillian Welch, The King Is Dead sticks to mostly simple, straightforward, country-inspired—and most importantly, self-contained—songs that frontman Colin Meloy compared to “going from reading a novel to reading a bunch of short stories.” Also, he’s reportedly ditched those “English traditions” and gotten back into his R.E.M. and Camper Van Beethoven records. The album is due out on January 18, but you can download the first single, “Down By The Water,” at the official website. The band will also debut the song on Conan on Nov. 18. Here’s the cover:

And here's a video preview:

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