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

THE HAZARDS OF LOVE

The Decemberists

 

Prog Folk

4.07 | 289 ratings

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Bonnek
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal Team
3 stars The Hazards of Love is a pleasant and mature folk-rock concept album that will please many fans of the genre. The Decemberist sound like a contemporary take on classic folk rock, mixing influences ranging from REM via Jethro Tull to psychedelic rock. Due to the male vocals they sound like a 2009 incarnation of Fairport Convention fronted by Syd Barrett.

I hadn't cared much about the previous Decemberists albums. An occasional song aside, I found it all fairly predictable, docile and formulaic. On this album they stretched their ambition a bit and it has certainly paid off to some extent. The thematic unity of this album does enhance the individual songs, which stick to classic folk rock formulas with an occasional heavy blues riff.

My first reaction was very positive. I even considered 5 stars. But I've put off my review because the very immediate appeal of this album had made me suspect that it wouldn't survive repeated listens. And indeed this has proven to be true. While I would have initially rated it higher then Porcupine Tree's Incident, a weekly listen made me grow tired of it rather quickly. There are a number of reasons for that.

It lacks a bit of substance for me, especially musically. While the songwriting is very consistent, it all sticks too much to basic folk rock & blues songs. Also the 4 variations on the title track get tiresome after a while. Despite a number of excellent 5 star songs such as 8. The Wanting Comes In Waves, 11. The Abduction of Margeret, 12.Queen's Rebuke and the beautiful 16 Horsepower derived 13. Annan Water, most tracks are fairly average.

Also the vocals are not entirely satisfying. The plaintive voice that Colin Meloy uses is competent but lacks the real emotional turmoil that Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention or Gabriel Yacoub from Malicorne had. The vocals are too uninvolved, flat and cool for this kind of music, they miss intensity and attitude. The female vocals work a lot better actually.

I generally don't care much how 'prog' I think an album is to appreciate it, but I sure do miss some characteristics in this album that I would normally associate with prog. I miss excellence, poise, challenge, originality and one or other striking feature that shakes the ground I'm standing on. That is not present here.

I think I should really start to listen to what my wife says. Right from the first time her reaction was "Bwah da's maar flauw zulle", which would translate to something like "What's that lame stuff again?". Repeated listens have proven her right, again. Damn! I hate it when that happens :) 3.5 stars. Still, don't miss this album if you are a folk fan.

Bonnek | 3/5 |

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