April 30, 2009

Test Spin: The Decemberists

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The Decemberists’ recent work, Hazards of Love, somehow does not get tiresome. This normally wouldn’t be such a feat, but most albums are not 17 tracks long. It’s not that The Decemberists failed to do some editing, however. They just included everything — ballads, angry rants, even an opening track, “Prelude,” of only instrumentals.
Lead singer Colin Meloy has a voice that remains one of the most stunning and original out there, and the entire album has a folksy, old-school feel, which is not surprising considering Meloy’s original inspiration was folk songs. But the old-school sounds (such as an accordion in the background throughout “Isn’t It a Lovely Night?”) are complemented with complex instrumentals and plenty of modern rhythms and harmonies. In “Bower Scene,” for instance, rock-and-roll sensations mixed with heavy metal nuances make for an altogether intriguing and unique feel. It is “Annan Water,” however, with its mysterious tones and off-beat chords, that you will want to listen to again and again. And, as if the music isn’t enough to keep you busy, Hazards of Love is also a coherent narrative. But whether you’re paying attention to the storyline or simply letting yourself be engulfed by the music, The Decemberists continue to add positive connotations to the month that already features Christmas.