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The Hazards Of Love

4.6 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (23 Mar. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rough Trade Records
  • ASIN: B001TKMRWE
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,928 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

This is not the seventies anymore. You do not need to be afraid of prog rock. Bearing that in mind, open your arms for the fifth album by Portland's baroque-folksters The Decemberists, The Hazards Of Love, a bona-fide concept album (based loosely, since you asked, around '60's Brit folk revivalist Anne Briggs' EP of the same name). You need not quiver at its 17 tracks, preludes, interludes, a song in four parts, and another reprised at the record's conclusion. This is, in keeping with their tendency to get ever more theatrical by the year, by far their most prog offering to date, even more so than 2006's The Crane Wife. But nestling at its centre is a clarity, warmth of expression and twee smile that has been present in their songwriting since their more threadbare early releases. "Annan Water" is gently campfire acoustic, a la Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, but with a flaming arrow protruding from its chest, "The Queens Rebuke / The Crossing" writhes noisily in a '70s rock swamp and the bright stomp of "The Rake's Song" recalls The New Pornographer's knack for honeycomb pop with a kick and is somewhat of a respite from tracks like "The Abduction Of Margaret" and "Margaret In Captivity" which are as convoluted and flamboyant as you'd expect (Medieval French vibes, minstrel-esque laments, psychedelic flutterings, children's choir, heavy metal guitars, the lot). Positioned somewhere between Arcade Fire, Yes, Pink Floyd and Patrick Wolf the last thing you can accuse them of is being uninteresting. --James Berry

Amazon.co.uk

This is not the seventies anymore. You do not need to be afraid of prog rock. Bearing that in mind, open your arms for the fifth album by Portland’s baroque-folksters The Decemberists, The Hazards Of Love, a bona-fide concept album (based loosely, since you asked, around '60’s Brit folk revivalist Anne Briggs’ EP of the same name). You need not quiver at its 17 tracks, preludes, interludes, a song in four parts, and another reprised at the record’s conclusion. This is, in keeping with their tendency to get ever more theatrical by the year, by far their most prog offering to date, even more so than 2006’s The Crane Wife. But nestling at its centre is a clarity, warmth of expression and twee smile that has been present in their songwriting since their more threadbare early releases. "Annan Water" is gently campfire acoustic, a la Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, but with a flaming arrow protruding from its chest, "The Queens Rebuke / The Crossing" writhes noisily in a '70s rock swamp and the bright stomp of "The Rake’s Song" recalls The New Pornographer’s knack for honeycomb pop with a kick and is somewhat of a respite from tracks like "The Abduction Of Margaret" and "Margaret In Captivity" which are as convoluted and flamboyant as you’d expect (Medieval French vibes, minstrel-esque laments, psychedelic flutterings, children’s choir, heavy metal guitars, the lot). Positioned somewhere between Arcade Fire, Yes, Pink Floyd and Patrick Wolf the last thing you can accuse them of is being uninteresting. --James Berry

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It's nice to read so many positive reviews for this album, particularly those from fans of the first generation of prog-rock fans. The Decemberists certainly seem to have hit the right notes for many with this one. For myself, my first taste of their music was the wonderful Picaresque, which was one of those really special finds that put me in a spin for weeks, just brilliant. Hearing Castaways And Cutouts, after that, was a none-event, unfortunately.

So now I own a copy of The Hazards Of Love, and concur with the masses that this is one audacious album. The music is bright and adventurous, drawing noteably from classic prog-rock, British folk-rock, Americana, the blues, and a hint of early music, throughout the telling of one rather dark tale. If this storyline were made into a film or book you can be sure I'd steer clear, but it is curious that such subject-matter in song-form, at least in the capable hands of folks like The Decemberists, doesn't leave me disturbed and regretting the encounter. There is plenty of light and space here and it is overall much more dignified (in a good way) than you might expect.

I have no problem with Colin Meloy's singing (though my wife did at first), I'm actually reminded of Robin Williamson (Incredible String Band), and it is perfect for these songs. Also akin to Robin Williamson, Colin Meloy is like a magpie collecting curios and decorating a nest, all sorts of shiny fragments that don't really go together in normalville but together in this setting are beautiful. Joining Colin are Sharon Worden - who sings with suitable power, malevolence and contempt as the Queen character - and Becky Stark, singing as Margaret, whose voice is soft and lovely and goes well with Colin's voice, particularly on the charming Isn't It A Lovely Night?.
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Format: Audio CD
Well...what do you say eh? Despite perhaps others attempts at diminishing this latest epic as pretentious, pomp, meaningless folk/prog/rock ish, I am blown away - as usual!
Lyrically this is unsurpassed - just sit and listen! I love words - I really do! This is poetry and storytelling at it's best, all crafted within a cocoon of gorgeous music. Having discovered the Decemberists a few years ago I have listened with curiosity and growing admiration. The Crane Wife was lovely, haunting, painful to listen to at times but always wonderful. The Hazards of Love is .....probably the best recording of it's genre - is there a genre that encapsulates these guys? I don't know! Anyway vocally with the guest appearances (Shara Worden in particular) this album is beautiful, just beautiful. I don't know of another band that can just do this sort of thing. They are an unlikely bunch... just look at their photos.... but for me (and I know it's always personal with music - it HAS to be) this is a classic. Thanks guys - more of the 'same' - but oh so different. Lovely lovely lovely. Colin Meloy is a genuinely genius songwriter. This a a genuinely genius album.
Try it, don't be deterred by what you may read, get in there, close your eyes and let yourself be sucked in, seduced and sensualised! It's just good good music!!!
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
My vinyl copy had been mastered directly from a CD. How do I know? Two tracks on side D played the CD skipping for several minutes. It's a great album but don't waste your money on this rip-off vinyl - buy the CD instead.

UPDATE: This has now been confirmed by Rough Trade Records as a fault with the files used in mastering, which they intend to rectify.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the only album I've heard from The Decemberists.
And it's bloody brilliant.
Take a bit of prog-folk ala Strawbs, throw in a bit of Fairport/Sandy Denny, add a pinch of heavy-rock and let it simmer for 20 years.....freshen up with a twist of modern Americana and hey presto.....you've got yourself an all time classic album. Have had this on almost constantly in the car for a month and can hardly bring myself to press eject.Poor Old Neil Young's Fork in the Road hasn't had a look-in, and he's my all time hero.
Almost reluctant to buy their other albums cos I can't see how they can top this one.....but it's a risk I'm gonna have to take, especially as some other reviewers seem to rate them higher than Hazards.
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Format: Audio CD
Has it been that long since the Crane Wife? Really? I still play that CD a lot. Seen them twice in the UK since. Teased greatly the 3 singles just passed... what were we to expect? All of the lyrical gymnastics and a murder ballad to murder murder ballads. Enjoy the Tain, youll love this. Enjoy the cold blooded jollity of the Shaknill Butchers? Enjoy sex, death, love, blood, jealousy, its all here. Complex, layered, intertwined, engaging yet deep, deep, deep... God I hope they come to the UK and do the same as the US tour- play the whole album and then a few classics. A folk-rock classic.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
You may, like the Guardian's music critic, listen to this and come to the conclusion that this is a silly concept album about some kind of magical demon and a bunch of incongruous events that befall a poor medieval maiden. This being so, you will have likely missed out on the bit of your GCSE English where they told you about "metaphor." Metaphor, should you wonder, is a literary device, where, for example, one might describe a person as "an injured fawn" without actually thinking them to be a baby deer, but merely alike to one in some way.

This, more likely, then, is an album about a rake, a cad, a psychopath (although found weak and wanting when childlike bound by his mother's love at the anagnorisis) who beguiles some well meaning woman by his (probably unconscious) neediness, then regrets the burden of loyalty that comes with his boon, and most of all of babies, gets widowed, is cross about it, bumps off the babies, then is haunted by guilt, before getting drowned (or drowning himself in a fit of mixed and inarticulate emotions) finally redisovering his loyal, selfless (pshah, as if: it's easy to repent at the end !) and loving self in moments of (narcissistic and maternally cossetted) demise.

Or maybe it's not, who am I to say?

Either way, this might not be for you. For example, if you believe that bands should stick to one thing or another, and not mix it up, then fine, go back to your daily mail, go hold hands with prince Charles, and enjoy your comfy chintzy sofa and mug of cocoa.
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