Whilst the Decemberists have been around for a number of years, and a friend of mine is a big fan, I have to confess - a few tunes aside - they have never really made much of a splash with me. With their fifth album - 'The Hazards of Love' - a 17-track concept album that sort of tells a story about a fair maiden ravished by a shape-shifting demon (no, really) - however, I am suddenly find myself surprisingly won over.
On some levels - like most concept albums - it is utter tosh, but with its repeating musical motifs and reprises, making you quickly think that actually there are only about five actual songs on the album - a clever trick. Like with all good concept albums this makes listening on shuffle not the ideal way to digest this album - especially as their are short 'interlude' pieces joining all the songs too.
Added to all this the fact that the band seem to have a love for early 70's British folk/prog/heavy metal and this walks right up my street - and will no doubt also cause many others to run away down that street as fast as humanly possible - including some The Decembrists fans I'd hazard a guess. Still, you just try and not sing along to 'The Wanting Comes in Waves' after they've smacked you over the head with it several times during the course of the album. Other highlights for me, the heavy rock of 'The Queens Rebuke', the mellow folk duet of 'Isn't it a Lovely Night', the four part title track, 'Won't Want for Love' - Oh, sod it, I like it all.
It is an album that reminds me of The Arcade Fire, and in particular, their Funeral album, which for me is not a bad thing at all. In short, I love it, but then again, I still think Kiss - 'Music from the Elder' is a great record - go figure. I will fully understand if you hate it.