Exposé Online banner

The Decemberists — The Hazards of Love
(Capitol 50999 2 14710 2 5, 2009, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2010-07-01

The Hazards of Love Cover artWith each successive release, The Decemberists seem to get more proggy. Their brand of folk-oriented rock owes more to Jethro Tull and Strawbs than the Byrds and CSNY. Leader Colin Meloy’s stories are as old-fashioned and literate as ever, this time worked into a full-on concept, with the songs running together and various themes (musical and lyrical) recurring in variations, and in fact it could be called a rock opera. Four vocalists cover the characters: Shana Worden and Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond, and Meloy himself. The story was inspired by an old Anne Briggs album with the same title, and concerns a jealous forest queen, a woman who falls in love with a shape-changing forest spirit, and a villainous Rake. The instrumentation includes banjo, acoustic guitar, accordion, pedal steel guitar, and upright bass augmented by some very proggish keyboards and occasional more orchestral moments, even including a children’s chorus backed by harpsichord and a very warped synthesizer tone. And there are some grand heavy riffs as well, bringing the rock in no small way. To my ear, it succeeds on every level, and given the band’s major label status, it’s great to hear something so obviously progressive get the kind of attention they get. Prog fans certainly should check this out.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 38, 2009 releases

Related artist(s): The Decemberists

Latest news

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Coco Roussel - Reaching Beyond – Roussel may be best known as the drummer for Happy the Man in their final phase, and the work he did with Kit Watkins on some of his first solo projects. This is his first album since Kit & Coco's...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues