Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
Back when I didn't care very much about finding good music, I would hear about The Decemberists and think, "With a name as cool as that, those guys must be pretty good." Basically, I was right.
Lead singer and songwriter Colin Meloy has become modern music's go-to ballad boy with the band's recent album The Hazards of Love. The seventeen-song epic throttles along with a vengeance the tale of, well, I'll let you figure that out for yourself. Suffice to say there's a slew of characters and all of the songs flow together. It's quite beautiful, really.
But even if you ignore the underlying stories, you're still left with a brilliant sound. The album's instrumentation is at times immense and grandiose, but just as easily shifts to sparse and chilling or just plain intense. Then there's the vocals, oh my God. Of course Meloy is instantly lovable. But then you've got Shara Worden, a guest vocalist from My Brightest Diamond. Just listen to "The Wanting Comes in Waves", if you want to hear what that's all about. It opens with Colin accompanied by harpsichord, quickly moving to a soaring chorus with drum, bass, and backup singers, then morphing into a bluesy, hard-driving verse with Worden's unmistakable voice over top, only to cycle through all three again, all with a searing narrative in the background. I defy you to find another band capable of making a song like this.
If you're looking for an accessible piecemeal album, this is not for you. But for someone tired of the everyday drivel of formulaic pop album structure this may be just what the doctor ordered.