The Hazards of Love

No, this isn’t one of my stories or some opinion article on relationships. The Hazards of Love is the latest album from The Decemberists. Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Dear god when is he going to shut up about The Decemberists what is this the third time he’s written about them? They can’t be all that interesting I mean seriously write another short story or something you uninspired bore.” The answer is I am never going to shut up about The Decemberists, as long as they continue to make music I will continue to write about it, this is largely because The Decemberists are one of the very few modern bands that I like, and therefore I enjoy being able to keep track of their new releases and such. Now, about the album, the one obvious things to talk about is the way they’ve put it together. Each song flows into the next and it’s often very hard to distinguish one song from another. It’s almost like it’s one big hour long song, and I’m as yet undecided on whether or not I like this. It’s interesting and it allows the narrative to flow uninhibited by track changes, but on the other hand it’s hard to pick out one or two songs that you really like from the album like you would normally, you really have to have an hour to devote to listening from one end to the other. I thought that the beginning of the album felt a little too much like background music, for me it really picked up when they hit “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid”. I thought that at some times it was a little too soft and slow, although The Decemberists can pull that off better than most, and at other times it was a little too heavy, but for the most part I really enjoyed listening to it. A big aspect of the album is the narrative, which is interesting, but has some inherent flaws. The words to a song can often be very hard to decipher, and trying to understand all the words as they’re being sung can really distract from the music. Also, it means that you have to sit for an hour and pay close attention, you can’t really go around doing other stuff while it plays if you want to understand what’s going on. I have a hard time trying to come up with an occasion to which this album is best suited. It doesn’t really work for social occasions because it requires attention, and because it’s hard to pick out single songs you like it’s hard to fit into a mix or shuffle through on an iPod. To me it feels like the kind of thing for a rainy depressing Sunday afternoon with nothing going on and you can lie down and lose yourself in the music and the narrative for an hour. Overall I think it’s a pretty great album although I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed by it probably due to “The Rake’s Song” setting the bar extremely high. I think I like some of their previous work better, especially The Crane Wife which contained the first songs I’d ever heard from them. Listening live to the webcast was a lot of fun although they didn’t take the stage until 1 am and then after an encore all was said and done at around 2:30. I think lead singer Colin Meloy said it best right before they played their last song, “It’s late man, it’s late. It’s time for you to be in bed.” I look forward to more from The Decemberists in the hopefully near future. In other words, yeah, you made a pretty great album, now get back to work and make another one!

Update: Today I got the CD and I don’t really know why but the studio version sounds a lot better than the live version they did. The whole beginning seems much more… I don’t really know how to describe it… there, than it did before. It’s pretty much the same really but I think the tweaks and tuning make it feel a lot more together than it did live. I’m considering placing it above The Crane Wife. Actually, I’m not just considering, I am.

Final score: 92/100

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