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


The Decemberists


Prog Folk

4.08 | 272 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A contender for album of the year 2009!

Here's an album that grew on me a lot. It was my introduction to The Decemberists, and when I first bought it I really thought it was an overrated album. I didn't see the album everyone else saw. I heard an average acoustic album, nothing more, nothing less. But after many repeated listens I began to understand what everyone else was seeing in The Hazards of Love.

What I now see is a beautiful concept album proving that progressive rock isn't about over-the-top complexity, 30 minute songs, and never ending noodle-fests. This is about simple arrangements, beautiful melodies, and lush harmonies. If I could describe this album in one word I would say this album is beautiful. It has some heavier parts in the vein of Deep Purple (though these are scare), and they are excellent as well. I love the use of the male and female vocals, and it really portrays the characters in the story excellently. The story here ranks up with one of the best I've heard and this album is superb lyrically. I'll explain each song in more detail next.


"Prelude"- The album starts out with a low note that gets louder until we have some organ chords. There are some vocals and then there are some excellent chords from the strings. I really think this is a great opening.

"The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone)"- After the fairly brief prelude an acoustic guitar riff opens up the second song. It builds pretty well, and has the excellent use of acoustic instruments that will be used throughout the album. This immediately shows you that you're not in for your typical prog rock album.

"A Bower Scene"- This song open up with the main repeating theme to the album. It has a really nice guitar riff and light organ. It has a section that screams heavy rock bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. An excellent song!

"Won't Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)"- After the previous song ended with some heavy riffing, this begins with a light guitar riff and a nice drum beat. Female vocals are in this song, and it really is a nice song. It has some great progressions and is very catchy.

"The Hazards of Love 2 (Wager All)"- After the previous song ends, the fifth song opens up with acoustic guitar and a light percussion. This features the male vocals on lead and beautiful female vocals singing back up. I love the organ on this song, and it really adds a nice touch.

"The Queen's Approach"- This song is a banjo riff with the use of strings as well.

"Isn't It A Lovely"- This song originally didn't appeal to me at all, and I actually found it pretty painful to make it through. It grew on me a lot, and I actually like the mood this song sets up. It has nice use of the accordion, and the male and female vocals together are really nice. The main riff is pleasant as well.

"The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid"- This has to be my favorite song on the entire album. It opens up with a really great harpsichord melody with male vocals singing the same melody. This melody is my favorite from the entire album for sure. It then builds excellently into a beautiful chorus section. We are then followed by an excellent guitar riff with female vocals. That section sums itself up, and we go back into the opening harpsichord melody. It builds again into the beautiful section with the choir. This goes back into the heavier riff, and the song really ends itself well.

"An Interlude"- After the previous song ends on a heavier note, we have a light acoustic melody. An electric guitar enters as well, and t makes for a beautiful interlude.

"The Rake's Song"- Some repeated guitar chords open up this song. The male vocals are used here, and it soon builds from the acoustic chords into the same chords with heavy percussion and distorted bass.

"The Abduction of Margaret"- A guitar and drum beat opens up this song, and it is then followed by the theme used in "A Bower Scene". It builds very well into a heavier riff.

"The Queen's Rebuke/The Crossing"- This opens up with the riff that ended the last song. It continues the riff with female vocals. This goes into a great chorus, and uses the same riff for all of the verses. The song uses an excellent riff with great use of the organ near the end. This shows The Decemberists' heavier influences.

"Annan Water"- After the heavier previous song, the thirteenth song here opens up with some majestic acoustic guitar chords. The male vocals come in, and it builds pretty well. It does die down into a nice section with just vocals and organ. It eventually goes back into the main riff, and then goes back into the organ section. Overall, this is an excellent song with some excellent vocal melodies.

"Margaret In Captivity"- This opens up with the 12 string guitar that is present throughout most of the album. I like the vocal melody a lot, and it has a really nice string section near the end.

"The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)"- It opens up with the same riff used in The Wanting Comes In Waves. It is followed by harpsichord chords with children singing.

"Wanting Comes in Waves (Reprise)"- This opens up with the riff used in the original song, except far more upbeat. It has all the magic the original song contained, and the ending is incredible. I love the string melodies against the rest of the band. An excellent reprise of n excellent song!

"The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)"- It opens up with acoustic guitars in contrast to the previous song. It builds excellently into beautiful choruses and strings. The use of the male and female vocals here really adds a nice touch. This is truly a beautiful song, and an excellent way to close this excellent album.

As I conclude this review, I'm still debating whether I should give this album a 4 or a 5. I'm not the person who should like this album at all. I'm a prog metal fan as well as a symphonic fan, so an album like this is not one that would usually appeal to me. Yet I find it to be an excellent album that should be heard by any progressive rock fan. I don't think it's quite a masterpiece, but it is very close. Since I usually only save my five star ratings for true masterpieces, I'll give The Hazards of Love a four, though I could definitely change it to a five in the near future. All ratings aside, get this beautiful album and you will not be disappointed!

4 stars.

J-Man | 4/5 |


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