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I like the strong melodies that Colin Meloy conjures. The vocal phrasing carry a lot of hooks. I've been a fan of the band since Picaresque. And it's with this work that endeared me to the Portland, Oregon band. There's a cabaret quality that draws my mind into each song. Unlike literal cinema, these musical dramas ignite the listener's imagination to create the visuals to the lyrics offered. In the end of Picaresque we follow the story into the belly of a whale!
Hazards of Love is great music for the vinyl audiophile experience. The record is a nice pressing showcasing a great studio recording. It's another offering of aural theatrics from the group and even starts with the organ piece, which I might dare say, drags on. With today's digital on-demand short attention span, the opening track may seem like forever. A vinyl nut, like myself, sees it differently. I've just set the turntable tone arm down. Now I can get to my seat / spot in the room, get adjusted, take a nice swig of my beverage and get ready for the listening experience.
"The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle The Thistle)" starts with lush acoustic guitars and Meloy's signature vocal melody hook. This melody is revisited throughout the work - even with a group of children singing it!
As we follow along all four sides of the album, we'll hear big rock riffs among whimsical harmonica - different tunes interlaced with recurring musical ideas.
The last song is "The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)" a great song that stands on its own. We go out enjoying Sweetheart of the Rodeo like steel guitar.
The Hazards of Love is a record by a group of musicians who are obviously fans of a wide array of music. It's 2009 after all and Rock can endure, reinvented by a diverse exploration of styles. And with the Decemberists there's a heavy dose of drama. If you're into vinyl, spend the $18 on the record. You'll not only have a fun time listening to the music, you'll have an actual item that you'll love forever - if you take care of it!
Krist Novoselic's column runs every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly.