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Saturday, May 25, 2024

CD Review: The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Hazards of Love



Rating: 4


The Hazards of Love is long overdue.

Diehard Decemberists fans will be more than pleased to hear the familiar voice of lead singer Colin Meloy and even more pleased to hear the old-indie-metalish-folk sound that we all know and have come to expect from this Portland band.

It’s pretty much all there in the 17-track album: a full-fledged rock opera, if you will, about a woman named Margaret, her shape-shifting lover William, his psychotic Queen mother and a murderous rake. But who said this album would be less than hazardous?

But the true value of The Decemberistsfifth album release would be its musicality and instrumental intricacies. Thanks to guitarist Chris Funk, who put out all the stops to recording every single stringed instrument from an archtop to a pedal steel guitar, the four-part title songThe Hazards of Loveprobably would not sound as electric.

Chock full of intricate characters, intricate stories and intricate music, the songs can get a little lengthyespecially when they decide to go on 12-minute tangents. But overall, Meloy took the band in a direction nothing short of eccentric, especially when compared to their other albums.

The singles from The Hazards of Love have the most stylistic variation the band has ever put out. From a metal soundingA Bower Sceneto the eerie instrumental singleA Queen’s Approach,Hazards achieves dramatic cohesion fused with a lyrically dark story that ebbs into musical climax in songs likeThe Queen’s rebuke/The CrossingandThe Abduction of Margaret.

The result is a piece of work that is lyrically and instrumentally a progeny of Zeppelin and their other influences. This isn’t the best Decemberists album for first-time listeners, but for long-time fans, Hazards is as expectedsolid.

The sound that has heretofore powered the band’s prog-folk style gives way to a distinctly familiar album. Hazards would just sound so much better performed live.


Give these tracks a listen:The Rake’s Song,” “The Wanting Comes in Waves/ Repaid

For fans of: Andrew Bird, Death Cab for Cutie


Karen Song

Lyrics Sidebar:

My true love went riding out in white and green and grey

Past the pale of Offa’s Wall where she was wont to stray

And there she came upon a white and wounded fawn


Singing oh, the hazards of love


She being full of charity, a credit to her sex

Sought to right the fawn’s hind legs

When here her plans were vexed


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