So, I absolutely love The Decemberists' latest album: The Hazards of Love. It came out in March, but I just got it this week. Borders had a delay in the shipping the first and second times I went in to get it. Then I decided to download it from iTunes instead of buying the CD, but Laura had my external hard drive to use for her wedding. Anyway, I've got it now and I haven't listened to anything else since I first hit the play button.
The album tells the story of two ill-fated lovers, William and Margaret. I wasn't sure if Colin Meloy had based this on a specific folk tale so I did a bit of research and it seems the whole thing started when he wrote a song called The Hazards of Love, that song led into another and another until the entire story was told.
The thing is, I'm relatively familiar with British and Irish folk tales and folk music, and he has rather seamlessly tied together several common themes into a beautiful whole. I absolutely love this album. (Did I mention that already?) It has pretty much everything I love; story-telling, beautiful folk melodies, a bit of grungy rock.
I love that Becky Stark, who sings Margaret's part, sounds like Snow White. I love the strength of Shara Worden's voice as the Queen. I love how Colin's voice contrasts and complements them both. I love the gentleness of William and Margaret's love. Even though the story has a sad ending, it is so beautiful I don't mind. In fact, I think it would lose a good part of the beauty if the ending were any different. I love that Colin uses words like lithesome, and bereft, and phrases like "our heroine here falls prey to her abductor!"
It's hard to pick my favorite song, or even my favorite part. I love The Hazards of Love part 2. (Wager All). I love The Hazards of Love part 4 (The Drowned). I can't say that I like The Rake's Song (it is about infanticide) but I can't get the chorus "All right, all right, all right!" out of my head. I love all of the Queen's lines, how her voice complements the thumping bass line behind it.
Colin said in the Paste Magazine article I read that it was intended to be a nerdy album. It's very possible he was talking about the instrumentation which I wouldn't know anything about. Nevertheless, I love it, so I guess I'm a nerd.
On June 4th Daniel and I are going up to Raleigh to see them live. It seems as if this tour is them playing the entire album, straight through from start to finish. I CAN'T WAIT!