Your instincts are good and we are sorry to say that this does not look good. It looks like the whole thing is drying.
Evergreens are slow to show their stress, and once the browning begins it's usually a goner. (Think of a Christmas tree that can be severed from it's roots for months and not show it).
We can't tell what happened. It could have frozen during the winter...then had a delayed dying. How much sun? (Full 8+ hours is best)
How is the drainage there? How deep is the mulch? More than 2-3 inches can smother the roots over time, as can if it were planted too deeply.
See this page from the Missouri Botanical Garden to see best plant culture:
We suggest pulling the mulch back and getting down low to look for any bark damage or gnawing from rodents. Gently tug on the plant. If it easily comes out with the roots eaten, it would be voles.