The Decemberists – Hazards of Love
Colin Meloy will be one of those people that in about 10 to 20 years will bring a glow into an old music geek’s face and a tear verging in the corner of the eye. And he hopefully will still be making music.
The new album of folk/artrock/prog/indie-ubergroup The Decemberists is going further down the lane of epic craftsmanship that makes every skip-button useless and prevents any listener from doing anything whilst listening.
(is it coincidence that the title of the song is written in the same font of most Led Zeppelin covers?)
Every song evolves into the next, references previous and coming tunes, mingles with the other and creates a homogenic, yet fluent and diverse composition that is overwhelming in its complexity.
Where “The Crane Wife” was delving wide into the Progressive Rock era of the late 60s, “Hazards of Love” is much more aggressive, darker at times and plays more with the classic rock moments of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, therefore creating a fusion that worked back then and does exceptionally well today.
With the “Prelude” we fade into the album, there is an excitement in the air that promises something of an opera and then we’re right into the folktale that it tells.
Guest musicians like Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) remind of Led Zeppelin’s fantastic collaboration with Sandy Denny on “The Battle of Evermore” and are probably not coincidental.
The recurring theme is a constant reminder that this is a story told, a remembrance of the meaning, like the three tasks of a hero in a fairy tale, different but the same each time.
(Colin Meloy singing some songs from Hazards of Love, live)
It is evident that Colin Meloy has graduated in creative writing, the lyrics create a poetic tale, moreover, the instrumentals and the structure of the songs tell it as well.
The story is best explained by Meloy himself: „ The Hazards Of Love tells the tale of a woman named Margaret who is ravaged by a shape-shifting animal; her lover, William; a forest queen; and a cold-blooded, lascivious rake, who recounts with spine-tingling ease how he came “to be living so easy and free”.“
“Hazards of Love” is not a compilation of Hit singles, it is like a good book that takes you in its grip and doesn’t let you go until the last page, when it offers you to leaf to the beginning and start again. This, music needs, a wake-up call to appreciate the complete work of an artist, not only the danceable single on your Ipod. To completely sink into the lyrics, the music, the emotions that you and the musicians went through in listening to and making the record.
Six months left till the end of the year but I will be as bold as to say that this is with ease one of the best albums of the year 2009.