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

THE HAZARDS OF LOVE

The Decemberists

 

Prog Folk

4.11 | 231 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

mothershabooboo
5 stars What do you get when two fall in love? You get the hazards of love. What do you get when the fair last becomes pregnant with child? You get the hazards of love. What do you get when the father is a woodland creature once a young man, who was found by ?Mother Nature? who saved his life just before he died by turning into a faun during the day, since she is very jealous and protective and only wants him for herself? You get the hazards of love. Now what do you get when, striking a deal with ?mother dear? (because he?s a faun, and mother dear is a term people use for their mothers?yeah you get it) to have one day with his love and child in return to give himself completely to her by either dieing or remaining a faun (it?s never really made clear). You get the hazards of love. What then, do you get, when upon agreeing to terms, the two love birds, after only a few hours together, get separated when a villain comes and captures the fair lass to do with as he please? You get the Hazards of love.

What then would you get, if the young love filled man, who we know as William, goes in pursuit of his love, who we know as Margaret, to save the day and be one with her again? Well, you get the hazards of love. What then, would you get, if Mother Dear sees this occurring and decides to aid the villain in capturing the poor Margaret, for Margaret did take her own ?sun? away from Mother Dear, so Mother Dear provides passage of the villain over a very dangerous and murderous Annan River. You get the hazards of love. What then of poor William when he gets to the river bank? What do you get when this poor creature tries and saves his love, but the waves are too powerful for the poor creature? You get the hazards of love. Oh, but not all is lost, for what if the children of the villain, whom he had killed previously, come to Margaret?s aid and take their own father?s life away? Well, you?d get the hazards of love. And what, upon returning to the river, seeing her only love being swallowed up in waves, would you get, if Margaret dove in to save William as he was trying to save her, and both being pulled down together? You get the idea, you have the fifth studio album from ?The Decemberists?: The Hazards of Love.

Now that the plot of this massive rock opera is dealt with, lets move on to the music. Colin and company really have outdone there selves with this release. We have some returning faces on this record who had left before ?the Crain Wife? and some additions. Taking the role of ?the queen? or ?Mother dear? we have the very lovely voice of Shara Worden who adds some of the heaviest female vocals heard in quite some time. There?s a perfect mix of opera and rock in her voice. Colin Meloy, of course playing the part of all male characters, and the ever lovely Jenny Query picking up the rest of the female vocals, which is pretty much just Margaret.

The Decemberists as a band have finally taken the full plunge into progressive music with this album. True, through all their previous works there have been progressive moments (such as stories that run throughout albums, ?The Train? EP, and of course Island and The Crain Wife pts 1-3) but this was the first time an entire studio album of theirs can be classified as progressive. It seems Meloy took what he learned with ?The Train? and ?The Crain Wife? and put what worked into this album and left out the trimmings while also exploring new grounds. By having ?what worked? as the foreground and foundation of the album, it allowed him to really explore and experiment with different things without compromising ?good? sound. The entire album can be taken as, and for me it is, one complete song (only separated into 17 parts for the conventional and mainstream audience).

The album moves threw all emotions and uses almost all forms of music. We?ve got hard rock electric guitars to almost a country and western Nashville guitar, to classical crisp harpsichord to a deep and hard blowing Hammond, B-3 organ. As with any ?complete? song, many themes are introduced early on in the album to be revisited in later songs. I personally love this technique as it allows for exploration of chords without the threat of repetition. And what we are introduced to quite subtlety in early songs are brought back in later songs for effect of the plot and just not wanting a good riff leave so early. A personal favorite would be that of ?the wanting comes in waves?.

Not only is the album littered with amazing music, but you will find the usual play on words and metaphors we?ve come to expect from the Decemberists and Meloy. The best part about this album is, when listening on just your own and trying to figure out the plot, you?ll never leave with the same story twice. I know for myself, I?m always torn between the story given at the beginning of the post, and a ?not in chronological order? story, which we all know Colin is famous for. That?s just one of many great things about this album. No two individual?s take on this is the same; the only common ground is this: It is an essential album to listen to. The first Masterpiece of 2009, it?s looking like it will be a good year. Now the true test: will time be kind to our dear friend ?The Hazards of Love.?

mothershabooboo | 5/5 |

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