The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

On March 24th The Decemberists released their 5th studio album, The Hazards of Love.  

Lead singer Colin Meloy had originally wanted the subject matter to be shown as a musical production, but realized what a pain in the ass it would be stage-wise and ended up turning it into a 17-track continuous story epic rock opera.  Yes, you read correctly, a frickin’ rock opera.  Rad.

The general story centers around a love story between this shape shifting forest dweller creature named William, sung by Meloy, and his love Margaret, sung by Becky Stark of the band Lavender Diamond.  

The beginning track shows how they met in the forest..

They fall in love and she gets knocked up, and so then comes back to the forest to try and find him.  They spend a blissful night together, emphasized by this sweet little ditty..

But, as in all good rock operas, then the trouble begins.  The Forest Queen/William’s mother, played by Shara Worden (and who has an insanely powerful, kick-ass voice), is pissed and doesn’t approve of their love and basically tells him that he can’t see her anymore.  William asks for one more night with Margaret and the queen allows it..

Enter the villain, The Rake.  [To break from storytelling a bit here, the Decemberists have some pretty fucked up songs (“A Cautionary Tale” being a fun example of how at night while you’re asleep your mom is the whore of all the scurvy-laden boat workers), but The Rake’s song kind of takes the cake, so far at least.]  Ok, so basically the Rake, who you learn has killed all of his kids because he didn’t really want the responsibility, steals Margaret and hides her far away across the water with the help of the Queen chicky..

William goes to the waters and asks them to settle down so he can cross to get to Margaret, promising his life as a repayment.

So he crosses and Margaret and William are reunited, partially due to the fact that in one of the songs the Rake’s kids come back to haunt him and so Margaret escapes, and then they both die in a sinking ship together.  But William promises that they’ll be ghosts and kick it at the bottom of the water for eternity together.  Yup.

It’s a pretty intense and amazing undertaking, I gotta say, and I think well worth the efforts.. give the whole thing a listen.  Though it is a bit different and perhaps a bit less pop (if that’s what you want to call it) than their previous albums, I think they’ve really expanded on their sound and created something beautiful.  Plus it’s a rock opera!  I mean, right?



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