these hazards of love never more will trouble us
In an effort to be prepared for Libby’s birthday visit to Nashville, and therefore what seems to have become our now-annual date with a tattoo artist, I’ve finally gotten myself back on the workout train. I’m down four pounds in just two weeks, which puts me on target to be even thinner this year than I was when I got my seagulls done on my birthday last year. Last year at this time, I was eleven pounds heavier, and according to my 365, I weighed what I do now on May 3 of last year. I am only eight pounds away from my lowest weight of last year, so I am obviously heartened and encouraged.
But, my knees are killing me. I’ve been running every day, and for the past couple days, I haven’t been able to walk without taking some kind of pain reliever. I think I need a new plan!
This weekend’s bizarre weather finally afforded me ample opportunity to sit down and soak up The Decemberists’s The Hazards of Love. While local news teams were spewing messages of ZOMG! doom and death-by-tornado and telling me to cower in my bathtub, I spent a little time with Colin Meloy.
I won’t even mention my embarassment when I realized The Decemberists had put out a new album that I wasn’t aware of, but needless to say, as soon as I heard about it, I grabbed it. The Hazards of Love stunned me, right off the bat. I’ve gotten used to The Decemberists’s eccentricities and what Steven Colbert once referred to as their “trademark brand of hyper-literate prog rock”. But this album was off-the-charts.
I love it when I can follow a band’s discography and see how they’ve changed and grown as musicians. They’ve always been quirky and weird and sometimes spooky, but they’ve never followed such a straight and beautiful trajectory as on their newest album. The Crane Wife, an album I would easily call one of the top five albums I own, represents a shift for them–from their earlier albums that could be listened to one song at a time, in reverse order, or not in any order at all–to a sort of musical continuity and linear structure that has to be listened to in order. The Hazards of Love takes that progression one step further, to an all-out rock opera with inter-song transitions so fluid and disguised that it’s impossible to tell when one song ends and another begins. This is an album that must be listened to from start to finish.
The album is almost troubling, but it’s got as beautiful character development as any novel and its fairy tales are rich and haunting. The Hazards of Love has deceit, guile, death, and obviously, love. “The Rake’s Song” is about infanticide of all things! But the album’s themes aren’t all disturbing. In fact, as a whole, the album’s story is overwhelmingly beautiful.
As far as a favorite track, I’m torn between “Annan Water” and “The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)”. But I’m leaning towards the latter, specifically because of the banjo thrown in so quietly it’s almost unnoticable, but it somehow still manages to be heartbreaking. I’m easily calling this the Best Album of 2009, and it’s not even April.
I haven’t picked up a book in about a month, but maybe someday when I’m through with the entire West Wing series, I’ll start reading and reviewing again. Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo comes out in paperback tomorrow, so perhaps I’ll pick that up.
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Tags: Best Album of 2009, The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love, tornadoes, weather, weight