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20 Watts’ Best of 2009: #15 The Decemberists’ Hazards of Love by jmlittman

The Decemberists' The Hazards of Love is #15 on our Best of 2009 List

PREVIEW: VISIT The Decemberists’ Myspace
TOP TRACK: The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid

Words may not be able to give the lyrical genius of The Decemberists’ Hazards of Love justice.

The album began as an attempt by Colin Meloy to write a song called “The Hazards of Love,” a title inspired by Anne Brigg’s 1964 EP of the same name. Meloy was instead immersed in a fanciful concept, and the instrumentals, as well as the lyrics, read like a play. The gentle folk-inspired guitar lines play behind the voices of two lovers, while a harsh, screeching guitar plays over the villains.

The lyrics, even in old English, are entirely cohesive and each track sheds more light onto the stories vivid characters. Hazards of Love deserves to be listened to in the same way that Romeo and Juliet is meant to be read or watched. It’s worth every second you’ll spend googling the obscure old English lyrics and tracing the voices back to their respective characters. It’s even worth the eerie moment when you’ve strung together all the events, so you’ve actually realized how creepy and off-putting this storyline can potentially be.

The album imagines a dark Shakespearean reality where ominous villains threaten a bizarre romance between a young maiden and a shape-shifting creature. Though the musical journey ends in tragedy, the listener’s time has been well spent in this fabricated universe.

— Jen Littman


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