The Decemberists: The Hazards Of Love [Album Review]

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The Decemberists
The Hazards Of Love
Capitol Records [2009]

You were crazy if you thought that The Decemberists’ next album would be anything less than an epic 17 songs and 60 minutes long. You were crazy if you thought that band leader Colin Meloy would release an album of just songs without taking the opportunity to tell a story. You were also crazy to think that the band’s fifth long player, The Hazards of Love, would not hold up to your standards. The Decemberists are truly an artistic group, and even though a “big” album like this will gather both negative and positive reviews, I will tell you that it is completely entertaining and full of ideas that will take the listener multiple spins to comprehend. The Hazards of Love also hosts an array of talent besides the band, including guest vocalists Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) and Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond), plus contributions from Robyn Hitchcock, Rebecca Gates (The Spinanes), and the epic album artist himself, Jim James (My Morning Jacket).

The women guests especially stand out as they go back and forth with Meloy on several cuts, holding up their “acts” in the musical. The Decemberists hold back nothing on The Hazards of Love and have quick, spontaneous musical changes throughout that will always keep you guessing, like the children singing in “The Hazards of Love 3” or the ’70s guitar assault in “The Queen’s Rebuke/The Crossing”. As a whole, fans should know that this record is really classic Decemberists with its grandiose storyline, its folk-metal mixture, and its intriguing soundscapes. I also guarantee that these songs will play spectacularly live, with what I am sure will be a “show”—just make sure you go out and catch it!

Key Tracks: “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid” / “The Hazards of Love 1” / “Annan Water”

Artists With Similar Fire: My Morning Jacket / PJ Harvey / Deep Purple

Christopher Anthony
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