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Last night Austin’s Stubb’s Bar-B-Q hosted the live debut of Decemberists’ Hazards Of Love, the latest morbid prog opera from a band famous for them. NPR.org streamed the ambitious performance of this dictionary rock LP start to finish, adding a chatroom so fans could ask each other what foxglove is in real time. Per NPR: “The Hazards Of Love tells the woodland melodrama of a character named Margaret who encounters such obstacles as a lecherous villain, forest royalty and rapacious, shape-shifting fauna.” Who knew they had it in them? (Everyone knew they had it in them.)

Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) were on hand to voice Margaret and the queen, respectively, and Annie Clark (St. Vincent Diamond) watched from the crowd. The role of William was played by Colin Meloy’s muttonchops. “The Rake’s Song” featured five (!) drummers. Epic. After album closer “The Hazards Of Love 4 (The Drowned),” Meloy and Funk returned to play “Raincoat Song” and “I Was Meant For The Stage.” You can stream the entire performance here, or just download the one song that’s an homage to Bon Jovi

The Hazards Of Love is available on iTunes now via Capitol Records. Pics by kingpinphoto via NPR.

UPDATE: Stream Hazards Of Love below (via EW):

Comments (42)
  1. how?  |   Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 0

    How on earth can anyone like this band? He sounds like a wailing dead out of tune cat. God awful.

  2. james  |   Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 0

    Veckatimest > MPP > Hazards of Love

  3. jonathan  |   Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 0

    greatest album ever.

  4. Nate  |   Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 0

    Anyone who likes this band will eventually have a switch that goes off and understand how terrible everything they’ve ever made actually is.

    • i actually had this epiphany. weird.

    • worldmoves  |   Posted on Mar 20th, 2009 0

      in your opinion, prick.

      • Nate  |   Posted on Mar 20th, 2009 0

        Unless you die first, I guess.
        I tried to listen to this again today. Made it until the children’s choir started up on “Hazards of Love 3″. (Pretty proud of myself.) Wow. It’s like they took the negative momentum from “The Perfect Crime 2″ and “The Island” and kept going down deeper, deeper, until they came out in China. And now no one can understand them.

  5. yayyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Evan  |   Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 0

    God, people can be right cunts, eh?

    I think this record is great. Clearly not their best, but still really good. And it was a risk. You have to admire them for taking a risk in a culture full of greedy sloppy kids caring only about their itunes single cuts, pissing and moaning that all the tracks ‘bleed into each other’.

  7. imbetterthanyou  |   Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 0

    just make a freaking album already and stop trying to be so important….geez

  8. Shivan  |   Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 0

    WILL YOU BASTARDS stop making everything a competition. You come in here with your falsified elitist attitudes and make it difficult for people who actually enjoy this music to have a good time and talk about it.

    I’ve been listening to this band since their first album, and I’ll tell you right now I’m never going to think their music sucks, because NONE of it sucks. This album is fantastic.

  9. This album is fantastic, even if it isn’t as fantastic as their last two records. Fact is, they’ve given us some of the best music of the decade, and this is hardly a letdown.

  10. Hardly a let down and worth applauding the risk, but part of me misses the playful pop side that was so evident on their first three albums. It made their adventurous English wandering minstrel shanty tunes seem cool even if you had to listen to them with a dictionary. But an album full of that? Hard to judge based on the concert alone.

  11. Someone posted a video of one of the songs from the SXSW show:
    http://gotchamedia.blogspot.com/2009/03/decemberists-at-sxsw.html

  12. dawg  |   Posted on Mar 20th, 2009 0

    Play the old stuff!

  13. I think this album is pretty great–but then again I’m a sucker for the crescendo.

    You could put a fart on an album and as long as you did it with a long operatic crescendo, I’d call it genius.

    Won’t Want For Love, The Rakes Song, & Annan Water are the highlights for me.

  14. Drainkey  |   Posted on Mar 20th, 2009 0

    So Jim James was on the album somewhere? Was it on the last song HoL 4?

  15. F. Leghorn  |   Posted on Mar 20th, 2009 0

    This may be the greatest album/performance piece since Rick Wakeman’s ‘King Arthur on Ice’….I rather liked the first couple of records the band did, but this kind of pompous smog really makes me question why. They should tour with Fiery Furnaces and Joanna Newsom…and the Brooklyn and Portland contingents can sit around and enjoy each other’s haircuts while pretending to enjoy the endless time changes as they smugly twitter each other about how nobody else ‘gets’ it. Oh, I get it, my friend. I just don’t want it.

  16. tylenolmonkey  |   Posted on Mar 20th, 2009 0

    I’ve been a big Decemberists fan for a long time, but I’ve noticed a sad trend in their music. They’ve progressively removed all the tongue-in-cheek, self-mocking fun that existed in their first 3 albums. Sure some of their old songs have been morbid/macabre but those songs were always interspersed with fun songs (July July, Billy Liar, 16 Military Wives, etc). Now they’re so damned serious!! At least The Crane Wife had Sons and Daughters to break away from the dread and melodrama!

    Also, the songs from the new album seem to be completely devoid of a hummable, memorable melody…

    For now consider me a disappointed fan who hasn’t yet given up hope for a future album to rival the creativity and joy of Picaresque.

  17. Grand  |   Posted on Mar 21st, 2009 0

    It makes me sad that the same reasonable people who staunchly defend the Decemberists will turn around and shit all over Vampire Weekend in the same brainless “elitist” fashion.

  18. Ben  |   Posted on Mar 21st, 2009 0

    I don’t think the band has abandoned their “fun” songs, but instead felt so strongly about creating a cohesive rock opera album that they delegated all of the music a la Picaresque to the recent series of vinyl EP’s. Valerie Plame and the others are still there, just not as prominent.

    My hope is that we’ll see a lighter album soon, perhaps some sort of rarities thing.

  19. disgruntled hipster no. 416  |   Posted on Mar 22nd, 2009 0

    Though “Hazards of Love” would be great even without her, Shara Worden fucking makes the record. Did you just hear that!?

    • She’s got some pipes, mos def. I still can’t decide if I like this album, it’s kind of exhausting to get through. But I do like “Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid” mostly because of Worden’s vocals. Jim James contributes somewhere apparently as well, but I can’t seem to pinpoint where or how.

  20. At least it is better than The Crane Wife. I love the Decemberist’s first three albums, but the Crane Wife was not very good.

  21. disgruntled hipster no. 416  |   Posted on Mar 23rd, 2009 0

    I don’t really understand the criticism that it’s challenging to wade through, or that it’s tuneless. I’ve had many of its themes and melodies stuck in my head for the greater part of the week.

    It’s still the Decemberists, with wry lyricism, a massive story to tell, and some truly catchy pop moments. They’re just interspersed between some sludgy, fucking heavy ones. I think it’s a ferociously fun record, and a great distillation of everything they’ve done up until this point.

    Sure, it’s ambitious, and may not entirely live up to its goals, but I mean, if ambition is pretentious, then what do we have to look forward to in music?

  22. I enjoy it. Not their best, but fun. The Rake’s Song is great, and Shara Worden is a fucking badass.

  23. derek  |   Posted on Mar 25th, 2009 0

    the hazards of self-indulgence.

  24. This album is fantastic. The Wanting Comes in Waves chant? and it’s Reprise? beautiful and epic. I especially love the “ooooh”s in the background. That is where you can hear Jim James among the other guest vocalists, all adding in dense layers of backing vocals. It sound great on vinyl too!

    Anyway, it is not their best but I will say it is better than The Crane Wife, as an album on the whole. Nothing on here is as disappointing as The Perfect Crime #2…and why are people referencing Sons and Daughters as if it was the highlight of the last album? It’s probably the most boring song they’ve ever done and throws the dumbest vibe into the closing of that album. I will admit, however, that it is much better experienced live and that it can be a great show closer.

    Anyway, HOL? Great. Fuck Pitchfork, fuck Spin…Rolling Stone got it right with an 8/10 rating but it doesn’t count because they’re bandwagon bribe-taking bitches. Peace.

  25. Kevin  |   Posted on Mar 26th, 2009 0

    I LOVE THEM! THEY HAVE PROGRESSED ALOT IN THIS ALBUM!

  26. Steve  |   Posted on Mar 26th, 2009 0

    It’s disappointing to see all the hate towards this band. I can’t name five people who regularly read for fun. It’s nice to see someone going back to the literary well and filling a niche market. I cannot imagine being offended because someone has a larger vocabulary than I do. I also can’t come up with any other explanation for thinking they’re “pompous smog.”

    Why is it so difficult for us to just appreciate other forms of expression? Certainly the disgruntled have a right to their opinions, but why bother wasting the time sharing that opinion? What’s the goal here?. It’s not like I, as a fan, am going to read a comment on the web and have some huge revelation that I should listen to other albums instead. I’m only at this page because I like the band discussed and Google indexed it. I long for the day when education is not a liability and expression is encouraged, not just hastily tolerated.

  27. I love the decemberists to death, but this album has been a but of a disappointment.

  28. I love both.

  29. Dave  |   Posted on Jul 7th, 2009 0

    Anyone who took a vulgar or childish approach to criticizing the music of the Decemberists completely nullified their comment with their blatant display of unintelligent babble. These parties clearly have no real knowledge of music, not because they dislike the Decemberist but because they can’t explain why in a technical fashion. The same goes for anyone who defends the Decemberist in the same childish and vulgar manner.

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