The Decemberists always had this in them. Over the course of their last four albums, their dalliances with prog have been growing ever more apparent and dominant. With The Hazards of Love, they’ve taken this nuance and given it free reign, resulting in a riff heavy rock opera. Colin Meloy hasn’t let this tarnish his ear for a tune: on the contrary, his album contains some of the best Decemberists tracks I’ve heard. His penchant for verbose, Dark Age / Dickensian tales again returns. Meloy is one of the most ambitious songwriters about at the moment, and what may be perceived as flaws in others, conversely work in his favour. This album is pretentious, it’s garish, it’s smug (Meloy still occasionally sounds like he writes his songs whilst perusing the Oxford English), but it works fantastically well. The Decemberists have always had the potential to polarize opinion, and this is their most divisive release to date. But for me, it’s one of the albums of 2009.
Video: The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love