The Decemberists, always unique and always reaching for the stars, debuted their forthcoming album, Hazards of Love, at SXSW the other night. And now NPR, ever the purveyor of the music the hipsters want, has that concert available for you and I to enjoy. Apparently the band played the album – which is essentially a concept album – in it’s entirety. Guest musicians in the show and on the album include Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond and Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond (what’s the deal with all the diamonds?!). NPR’s write-up on the show includes this:
The Hazards of Love tells the woodland melodrama of a character named Margaret — voiced by Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, alternately — who encounters such obstacles as a lecherous villain, forest royalty and rapacious, shape-shifting fauna. As for the music itself, Meloy draws heavily from British folk, but also adds plenty of synthesizers and hard rock verging on heavy metal. Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Robyn Hitchcock also make guest appearances on the record.
Josh Hurst has also prepared a review of the album for Stereo Subversion in which he writes:
Taken on its own, however, Hazards of Love is not a recording that exudes balance—not in the least. Not only have Colin Meloy and his cohorts made a concept album, they’ve followed the prog-leaning aspirations of The Crane Wife to their logical extreme, making a full-fledged rock opera, an album with an ongoing narrative, recurring themes and motifs, different characters played by different singers, and nary a stand-alone single in sight. In fact, it’s almost difficult to think of the album in terms of songs at all, as every track flows into the next one and there aren’t traditional song structures so much as snippets of songs—verses, refrains, musical or lyrical themes—that pop up again and again, in different sequences and configurations. In other words, this record is big, not in terms of its sound so much as its scope and its complexity.