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The Decemberists - The Hazards Of Love CD (album) cover


The Decemberists


Prog Folk

4.09 | 251 ratings

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4 stars THE DECEMBERISTS latest offering takes them more distinctly into prog-folk territory and further from the alternative rock sound. 'The Hazards of Love' tell a folk story with multiple characters, each accompanied by their own theme. The instrumentation is still alt-rocky as previously, but the arrangements are sparser and more thematical. These themes change frequently, but stay easy to follow due to the storytelling arrangement.

Don't expect 'progressive folk' to mean drawing some folk themes and instrumentation and weaving it into a complex, GRYPHON-style epic, though. Expect it to mean using simple folk textures with a harder instrumentation, careful arrangements and stories driven heavily by melody, vocals, and intertwining themes. You hear the character of the Queen approaching with shrieking a thumping, almost metal-sounding, but never too agressive riff; you hear the character of Margaret passing by with the most gentle of folk melodies. The drums are always very subtle, giving the entire album a 'sparse' sound, not playing a note more than is needed to captivate the audience.

Though at times they sound too much embedded in their The Crane Wife mindset to get that extra bit of tension out of it (there is a moment where I consistently expect them to set in The Crane Wife's 'O Valencia!'), this is an excellent record, more openly prog than the Decemberists' previous output, and heartily recommended. It's not a masterpiece; they don't seen comfortable enough yet with this direction, and seem to be holding themselves back at times; but it's a concept piece and it's good. Go get it and listen to it. If their next album builds on the groundwork laid here, we're in for something spectacular.

Cayafas | 4/5 |


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