Recording > Aural Pleasure
The Hazards of Love
With every album, Decemberists front man Colin Meloy comes closer to needing some sort of intervention. The second release since the group switched MOs from indie-friendly folk rock to hyper-literate, increasingly bombastic prog-freakout concept albums, The Hazards of Love marks one step closer to the day Meloy decides to stage a Renaissance ice ballet, or make his fellow band members act out dinner-theater set pieces between songs. But for now the band still rocks hard enough to distract us while Meloy plays Dungeons & Dragons. The significance of the rock opera’s storyline — young Margaret (vocals performed by Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark) attempts to nurse a wounded fawn back to health, but it transforms into a man (voiced by Meloy) who woos her, which angers the queen of the woods (My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden), who does something or other (probably tree related) — is better left between Meloy and his dungeon master, but the somewhat ambiguous theatrics give an extra immediacy to the vocal delivery (check out Worden’s world-ending howl in “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid”) and, as 2006’s The Crane Wife proved, the Decemberists groove best on all-out geekery.