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The Hazards of Love 

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The Hazards of Love
Composer: The Decemberists
Conductor: The Decemberists
Label: Capitol
Release Date: 2009-03-25
Rated: NONE
Genre: Recording

With every album, Decemberists front man Colin Meloy comes closer to needing some sort of intervention. The second release since the group switched MOs from indie-friendly folk rock to hyper-literate, increasingly bombastic prog-freakout concept albums, The Hazards of Love marks one step closer to the day Meloy decides to stage a Renaissance ice ballet, or make his fellow band members act out dinner-theater set pieces between songs. But for now the band still rocks hard enough to distract us while Meloy plays Dungeons & Dragons. The significance of the rock opera’s storyline — young Margaret (vocals performed by Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark) attempts to nurse a wounded fawn back to health, but it transforms into a man (voiced by Meloy) who woos her, which angers the queen of the woods (My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden), who does something or other (probably tree related) — is better left between Meloy and his dungeon master, but the somewhat ambiguous theatrics give an extra immediacy to the vocal delivery (check out Worden’s world-ending howl in “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid”) and, as 2006’s The Crane Wife proved, the Decemberists groove best on all-out geekery.

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