The Decemberists: The Hazards Of Love (Capitol, 2009)
I suppose the big question is that why I keep buying The Decemberists albums if I don’t like them anymore. Maybe I want to believe. I want to believe that I could love them like I once did. Unfortunately it just isn’t happening. The only thing that reminds me of the good old days is Colin Meloy’s voice. That voice still sounds totally brilliant. Unfortunately the music is nowadays over-ambitious and pompous. Why not just write songs, who needs some freakin’ folk rock opera. The saddest thing is that some of the songs could be great but the larger than life arrangements destroy them. For example The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid starts beautifully, but it soon gets unbearable. There’s a couple of great songs that don’t get out of hand. Annan Water is a really wonderful song and The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned) is almost equally great. Isn’t it a Lovely Night? and The Rake’s Song are also really good and end up on the positive side. A few others are okay, but about half of Hazards of Love is just way too pompous and almost unlistenable. However, I’m probably not the target audience for this. I prefer small things and a man and a guitar is usually a perfect combination for me. If you’re looking for some ambitious folk opera, The Hazards of Love might indeed be a good album for you. I rather listen to simple pop songs or let some dude with a guitar sing me a heartfelt story about the various ways he has broken his own heart than spend anymore time with this mammoth.