Thursday, March 19, 2009

Music Review: The Decemberists "The Hazards of Love"

Yes, a music review. Is this just a way for me to stall because I can't remember what I did with my stupid camera so I can't do a proper toy review?


Besides, does it say anywhere in the "About" section that I can't do a music review? No, it does not. It says "if it's nerdy" blah blah blah. Is music nerdy? It is if I say it is.

Anyways, onto the review! The Decemberists are a band I more or less recently got into. I've always had an affinity for folk rock (Stemming from my love of classic rock), and they're rather different from anything else being made today. Listening to their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th albums ("Her Majesty", "Picarasque", and "The Crane Wife" respectively) got me hooked. A few days ago (March 17, 2009) they released their 5th album "The Hazards of Love".

So, how does it stack up against their other albums? Read on, dear read and I shall tell you!

One of the first things I noticed while looking over the song list on iTunes, was that this album had more songs than their typical 10-11 count. It clocks in at 17. However, while it is a little bit longer than some of their previous stuff, it lacks the 10-15 minute long songs the Decemberists often do. The longest one is 6 minutes, 27 seconds, and the shortest is only 29 seconds! But you don't really notice the lack of long songs.

You see, the album has a great flow. It feels like the songs belong together. Like there's some over-arching story being told (A press release says "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' in the . . . 'The Rake’s Song.'" I don't personally get that, but I may read the lyrics to see If I can get it) . Now, many of their albums do that. The songs are similar, and in the case of the Crane Wife their was a story going on between a few of the songs. And the Mariner's Revenge Song was actually a story. But it seems more cohesive in The Hazards of Love. You don't notice many of the changes in song. They end and start quickly, and seemingly on the same note, with music that sounds similar and changes gradually.

But, that's not to say that the entire album actually souunds the same. There's some great variety. From hard rock, folk rock, and beyond, the band shows their versatility well.

As always, Colin Meloy (Center in the picture, holding umbrella) provides the main vocals. His voice is a big draw for me. He's very different sounding (Like everything with the band). It's like is Bob Dylan could actually sing. Jenny Conlee (She's, obviously, the girl in the picture) provides instrumentals, back up vocals, and, in some songs, vocals. Chris Funk (Awesome name!), John Moen, and Nate Query (From left to right in the pic), provide backup vocals and instrumentals.

As for the songs themselves, my favorite would have to be "The Wanting Comes in Waves". It has the most variety of any the songs, and has some great vocals.

And finally, the album artwork. Like all of their album covers, it was done by Meloy's wife, Carson Ellis. It's simple, showing the name of the album with bits of trees and vines, and the name of the band in the upper left corner. I like it, but it's not the best. My favorite would have to be the cover to Her Majesty.

Final Verdict: This is a wonderful album, but not their best work. My personal favorite would be 2005's Picaresque. I urge you to give it a try, and if you haven't listened to their other albums, give them a listen as well.

"I am a chimbley, a chimbley sweep." ~ Raw/Monty

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