The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone
Hands up if you like concept albums. No, I didn’t think so.
The other day I heard ‘The Rake’s Song’ on the radio and thought to myself, oh, I must buy The Decemberists’ new album. The story of a widower divesting himself of his unwanted children (“Expect you think that I should be haunted/But it never really bothers me”) it is a great track and fits into the simply accompanied Victoriana story telling tradition of Picaresque, their breakthrough album. It is also completely atypical of the album.
The Hazards Of Love follows in the footsteps of 2006′s The Crane Wife by embracing multi-songstory arc and Seventies rock but here it is taken to the next level. The whole album forms a single narrative (the plot is on Wikipedia) and the music is even brasher and swampier. This is not a welcome development. I’ve been listening to it all weekend and it takes at least that long to get a handle on it. It definitely isn’t an album you connect to on the first listen and, in fact, when I first heard it I thought I’d made a big mistake. Once the narrative has sunk in a you start to see The Hazards Of Love as a whole things improve. The music still jars though and whenever Shara Worden starts booming the voice of the Forest Queen I lose interest. Perhaps Colin Meloy should have made this into a musical as he originally planned.
(By the way, to my surprise it is It’s Blitz rather than Beware that I have found myself returning to.)