The Decemberists: Hazards of Love

[Capitol Records]

Apr 8, 2009 at 2:06 pm

A good many of the early British Prog and Rock bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s were as enamored with the gentle sounds of their native Folk translators as with the idea of electrifying that sound through guitars, a church organ and a wall of Marshalls. The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy may understand that relationship as well as anyone in the past four decades.

For the Decemberists’ new album, The Hazards of Love, Meloy has created a song cycle that details the story of a fair young maiden and the metamorph that takes advantage of her, set to a soundtrack worthy of the best Prog/Folk purveyors of the ’70s and shot through with contemporary melodicism and verve.

With a blueprint that’s equal parts Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Fairport Convention, Arcade Fire and New Pornographers, Meloy tells his tale without taking a breath between songs and couches the lyrics in the archaic language of Victorian English, adding to the authenticity of its traditional Folk roots and generally pissing off those who perceive The Hazards of Love’s style and execution to be pedantic and derivative. Pay no heed the naysayers and lose thyself in Meloy’s Prog/Pop fairy tale. Enjoy it verily, to even a goosefleshed degree. Grade: A-