Apr 15 2009

The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

Published by at 11:36 am under Alternative,MP3's

I first discovered the Decemberists when Picaresque went big. Eleven, self-contained pop odysseys, each one casting the previous in shades of grandeur I had yet to experience with music. (It didn’t help that it coincided with the heyday of my fantasy-novel indulgence.) I moved back from there, absorbing Her Majesty and Castaways and Cutouts, obsessing over the Tain EP and sort of enjoying the Five Songs EP. Listening to the Decemberists became an event, almost a hobby. They were something I could move to out of boredom, disappearing for ten minutes with the high-seas treachery of “The Mariner’s Revenge” or dissolving to the Fievel Goes West solo in “Chimbley Sweep.” So when The Crane Wife hit, and the brilliant pop songwriting behind “16 Military Wives” was replaced with twelve minute prog-rock escapades a-la Animals-era Pink Floyd, I was disappointed. And with Hazards of Love, they’ve further indulged their penchant for long-winded guitar solos and sparse riffage.

The reason Picaresque was so absorbing was that the instrumentation propelled the story-telling. There was a give and a take between plot and musical action. As a whole the story is lost, and despite its concept album status and the high-arching, grand drama of the plot, it somehow lacks cohesion. It melds in controlled spurts, like on “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid,” where Colin Meloy and some lovely lady trade dialogue over sharp, early seventies hard-rock riffs. But at the end of the album, I’m lost.

After several listens, I’ve gathered only the following:

1)That Love is Hazardous. But vaguely so.
2) Thistles Whiste in Bistly Mistle Histle Kistle
3) Judging from the bass tone, the Decemberists totally dig Hounds of Love-era Kate Bush
4) Chris Funk is still a guitar legend, despite any of the mean things I said above. That dude kills it.

From The Hazards of Love:

The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone)

The Decemberists – Won’t Want For Love (Margarelt in the Taiga)

From Picaresque:

The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives

From Her Majesty:

The Decemberists – The Chimbley Sweep

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love”

  1. […] Here are some thoughts on the new Decemberists record, Hazards of Love [Indie Muse] […]

  2. jiggeron 15 Apr 2009 at 11:38 pm

    for me, “perfet crime” is the best decemberists song.

  3. anonymouson 16 Apr 2009 at 10:05 am

    The ‘lovely lady’ to whom you’re referring is Shara Worden, the incredible force behind My Brightest Diamond. If anything, she’s the album’s only saving grace. That, and the deliciously evil lyrics of “The Rake Song.”

    But yeah, listen to her album, or her song off Dark Was The Night

  4. Edon 29 Mar 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I actually went the opposite route, starting with Hazards and going backwards. Crane Wife is pretty much my favourite.

    On the other hand Shara Worden does own on Wanting/Repaid

    Picaresque was good, but everything in between was not as polished as Crane Wife I guess

  5. ruthon 09 May 2010 at 10:09 pm

    I actually went the opposite route, starting with Hazards and going backwards. Crane Wife is pretty much my favourite.

    On the other hand Shara Worden does own on Wanting/Repaid

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