While the mythical singing ballads and darker guitar licks done by Colin Meloy and the Keyboard sounds from Jenny Conlee’s influences raging from Husker Du, The Smiths, and R.E.M. (not to mention Conlee’s love for ELP), stroke their alternative and indie rock looks graciously, its only to hear the lukewarm sounds between Nick Drake, Trees, Fairport Convention, Mellow Candle, and Pink Floyd that could have been a huge inspiration for them to write their Concept album which is a love story which takes place after the events of The Crane Wife from their previous self-titled fourth album, takes place from an ensemble cast of characters to have a brought of tension and hatred to bring the story in a climatic climax like no other. Also adding to the experimental sounds is The Doors and with some dalek lyrics with a mind-boggling rhythm section and you have this album which could be one of the essential works of 2009 as it gets word of mouth and a huge buzz from College Students who really get a kick out of this Indie Prog-Folk album.
Alongside the acoustic and electric instruments that are appreciated, just on every song on the album is Jenny herself playing some incredible instruments that rage from a Hammond Organ, Harpsichord, Moog, and arranging with an Accordion that is perfect for jazz and polka bands, but used extremely well for this as she might have played during her teen-era while she was listening to her parent’s record collection. From the heavy baroque rocker The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid, with its reverb fuzztone guitar sounds that is very Jimmy Page like, to the sinister introduction with the harp and guitar on the title track, the album is compromises a raging influences to Punk, Prog, and Folk with dynamic vocals to bizarre twisted arranging instrumental solos.
The Hazards of Love is a shattering piece of work. Track by track that could have been recorded outside of a forest in England, but it still gets a definitive wholesome. It becomes very beautiful while you listen to it on your iPod and on your headset and makes your brain grooving to the music – here are some perfect examples and tell me your head will go fucking insane! The pounding melodic rocker The Rake’s Song segues into the Led Zeppelin meets John Martyn punk-prog cliché on The Abduction of Margaret while it becomes a tribute to Husker Du meets King Crimson in a heavy metal way with The Queen’s Rebuke/The Crossing. It becomes like a showdown in a country British folk revival in the last three centerpieces of the album; The shuffle between guitar and accordion with Annan Water, which is almost a traditional folk song that comes straight out the biblical hymns in an atmospheric way. More disturbing of hard folk again is the fingerpicking-inspired touchness of Margaret in Captivity which could have been written for a British Hammer Film. Yet Part 3 of Hazards, Revenge is a terrifying number which sounds very Jethro Tull like, is probably one of the best songs to come out of The Decemberists career.
It takes a while to get into, but with strange lyrics and a resurrection of the prog genre, but like most newcomers, this is a Prog-a-folklore classic with such magnificent backgrounds including children singing on most of the songs including the Revenge part, just goes to show that this is no bullshitting around for all of its glory.