The Hazards Of Love (Capitol)
According to frontman/songwriter Colin Meloy, The Hazards Of Love was intended to be a musical, which isn’t a big surprise coming from this hyper-literate, history-obsessed dude. Fortunately for theatre audiences, this dream was never realized, and Meloy’s reworked Hazards into the Decemberists’ fifth full-length.
On this fantasy concept record about a woman who hooks up with a shape-shifting animal (or something), the band tries out big, fuzzy, folksy blues riffs on tracks like The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid and The Queen’s Rebuke/The Crossing, but the proggy result is unmemorable and middling. A Bower Scene finds Meloy at his most theatrical, but also sounding too much Placebo’s nasally frontman, Brian Molko. Ouch.
Top track: The Rake’s Song