Boomkat Product Review:
Having delivered a succinct, perfectly formed pop album in 2005's Picaresque, The Decemberists went on to create a sprawling, pomped up epic in The Crane Wife, which arrived the following year. Now, after having recently lulled us into a false sense of security thanks to a series of snappy single releases, the band return to full-length duty with this prog-influenced concept album - a long-player that at one point was penned as a fully-formed stage musical. While the band have always dabbled in theatricality, The Hazards Of Love (complete with its tangled narrative) embraces this side of its collective persona in full. Writer in chief Colin Meloy remains in good form, turning out sinister folk concoctions like 'Annan Water' and the haunting 'Isn't It A Lovely Night?', all very much in contrast to the other dominant thread running through the album: operatic metal. The swaggering 'The Rake's Song' works nicely, though the more Rick Wakeman-esque moments like 'The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid' are as bizarre as they are impressively accomplished. Another thing worth mentioning:on 'Margaret In Captivity' you have to wonder whether or not the band know they're playing through the 12-string guitar intro from Bon Jovi's 'Wanted Dead Or Alive'. In any case, The Decemberists' vaulting ambition is to be applauded, though after this heavy going banquet of a record you can't help but hope for another LP's worth of easy to swallow pop confections.