By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated January 12, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST
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The Hazards of Love, an overreaching 2009 rock opera, exposed a band in dire need of a fresh start. The Decemberists redeem themselves with their sixth LP, The King Is Dead, a 40-minute set that?s more succinctly rewarding than anything they?ve done in years. Partial credit belongs to two guests: Gillian Welch adds aching harmonies throughout, while R.E.M.?s Peter Buck helps three tracks reach a marriage of twang and jangle worthy of his main crew?s mid-?80s classics. A?

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