The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love
Record Label: Capitol
Release Date: March 17, 2009
This is the stuff of which legends are made.
It’s been three years since The Crane Wife was born, an album that topped charts and lists galore. Faced with the task of besting their best tracks, The Decemberists wove an epic tale. The Hazards of Love is classically told, complete with rakes and royals and rivers. Also classic are its artful sources. Citing artists from Zepplin to Anne Briggs, songsmith Colin Meloy set out to craft, in the manner of both metal and folk, a seamless narrative in vintage form. The result should only be heard in full – no singles will adorn radio waves. Much like a dusty book or manuscript, skipping around only ends in parts missed.
The winding story follows Margaret, a young and comely charitable girl, through her pursuit of love and all its woes. The subject of her ardor is William, a creature of the woods who shifts his shape. But the forest’s queen vexes their union, for William is her lone adopted son. She grants them one night of communal bliss, but then the boy must return to her side. No sooner do the star-eyed lovers part, then Margaret is captured by a rake. I’ll not ruin the ending of the yarn, but let’s just say the hazards are not few.
Throughout the length of the seventeen tunes, the adventure is folded in with grace. Meloy’s clever songwriting ably works, using musical themes and common riffs, to blend the music into the drama, tenderly suturing scenes end-to-end. For instance four title tracks can be found, each its own piece but writ in kindred strokes. Elsewhere melodies arc from song to song, binding the cast members to their motifs. What are more impressive are the keen moods. The instruments have voices of their own, building backbones of brilliant character. The organs hum in anticipation, the guitars crash with violent reproach, and the accordions wail wistfully. Within each chord the fable’s heart beats hale; the pulse will easily draw you inside.
Just like The Crane Wife did three years ago, this album will no doubt rise to the top. The Decemberists are a band of bards; this is the chance to crawl inside their minds. They’ve forged an intricately deep journey, one filled with intrigue and raw emotion. And though the road may be both dark and long, such are the trials and hazards of love.
The wordsmiths of the world have just fainted. That....was.....something!
Freaking awesome dude.
As for the album, I'm having trouble loving it. I think it needs to grow on me. Right now I marginally hate it.
Haha I've been so excited for you guys to post this review! I figured it was either going to be an AP darling or panned by the staff gods. Glad to you see you love it like I do!
Also, your review is very well written. I found it to be remarkably pointed and concise. Also, you did well to address fans of the previous album without muddling your focus by diverting yourself completely to prior discography. It serves as a great hook to draw readers into your review. Lastly, your vocabulary reflects the writing style of the band, so it's impressively evident that you truly immersed yourself in the work before writing. Haha, not that it matters, but you really floored me with your review.