39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
A True Gem,
This review is from: Hazards Of Love (MP3 Music)
I admit I was nervous when I first heard about the Decemberists new album, the Hazards of Love. A sprawling concept album is a very ambitious effort and the margin of error is very small. No one would have begrudged them had it fallen flat, because the degree of difficulty is so high and success in this format seems very hard to achieve.
However my worries were for naught, as the Decemberists came through and they came through big. This album is nothing less than a home run, and may go down as being this band's masterpiece. They managed to make an album that is clever, complex, that contains a complete narrative, and at the same time is the Decemberists most rocking by far.
The album effortlessly shifts from one style to another with four main song types, the instrumentals (Prelude, Queens Approach, and Interlude), the narrative interludes (Bower Scene, The Abduction of Margeret, Margaret in Captivity, and the Hazards of Love 3), the folk-type ballads (Hazards of Love 1, Hazards of Love 2, Isn't it a lovely night?, Annan Water, Hazards of Love 4), and the pure rockers (Won't Want for Love, Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid, The Rake's Song, The Queen's Rebuke/Crossing, Wanting Comes in Waves Reprise). All of these song types work well, with the last group I think being the strongest and most compelling, but that might just be my own music tastes talking.
This is of course a concept album and thus is best suited for straight start to end listens, and is marvelous in this capacity. The album starts off well enough, but really picks up at the Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid. At this point the Decemberists take it to the next level and never let go. The story line is at times tough to follow but you can easily get the main gist of it and with time and a lyric sheet I'm sure one can parse out some of the more subtle directions of the tale.
One quick highlight I think is worth mentioning, Shara Worden's appearances in Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid and Queen's Rebuke/Crossing are nothing short of fantastic. She brings haunting vocals to a new height and does an all out wonderful job. This is a wonderful album that really can and should be listened to multiple times.
So yes, I give this album nothing short of an A+, it is a great and interesting work that I happily give my highest recommendation to.