CD Review: The Decemberists

By Holly Elliott |

The Decemberists’ fifth full-length album, The Hazards of Love, is scheduled to hit the shelves March 24. The album features a new musical sound, with the band experimenting with a more folk-inspired approach. The instruments are more sparse, which may benefit this album because it allows listener to absorb the underlying narrative more easily.

Like The Crane Wife before it, The Hazards of Love is a concept album. According to an interview with Rolling Stone, the concept began when frontman Colin Meloy became interested in British Folk singer Ann Brigg’s 1966 EP, also titled The Hazards of Love. He liked the title so much that he originally just intended to write a song as homage to Brigg’s album, but he became so caught up in the project that it became an album instead.

The premise of Meloy’s version of The Hazards of Love is about a woman named Margaret and her lover William, who shape-shifts into an animal. The diction makes each individual song sound like a mythological fable. Listening to the album is comparable to reading an advanced, and well-illustrated, children’s book, with all the exciting twists and turns. And like a book, each viewer can create an individual interpretation of what the characters mean in the context of the story, making The Hazards of Love more complex than their previous albums.

This is only The Decemberists’ second full-length release on a major label, Capitol Records, and already their fan base has grown immensely since they signed on in 2005. The Decemberists gained lots of media attention when they were featured on The Colbert Report in a mock feud-turned-musical showdown in 2006, and then again at the end of last year when they performed at a rally for President Obama. The venue gave them the opportunity to share their politics and a few songs from the new album with an audience of 75,000 people.

To kick off their “A Short Fazed Hovel” tour, the first 750 fans to pre-order a copy of The Hazards of Love on CD will receive a copy signed by the members of the band. These lucky fans will also be in the drawing to win a signed Baglama Saz, a lovely Turkish instrument, and two free tickets to any concert of their choosing. Phase one of the tour begins in Los Angeles and ends at the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee. Tickets for these dates are currently available for purchase on the Decemberists’ official website.

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