The Hazards Of Love - The Decemberists
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
  1. From the glacial, droning opening track to the head–scratcher folk finale, The Hazards of Love takes its time, inviting you to grab a seat in front of the fire, stoke your Meerschaum pipe and take a trip.
  2. The band tries out big, fuzzy, folksy blues riffs on tracks like 'The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid and The Queen's Rebuke/The Crossing,' but the proggy result is unmemorable and middling.
  3. The narrative doesn't get in the way of the tunes, and the choruses are pretty versatile as anthems go.
  4. This is a man who penned a song called 'Chimbley Sweep' without conceding how daft that sounds, and this overblown opus about a mythical Margaret is equally wet and earnest.
  5. The Hazards of Love doesn't have the same thrill of the band's early work.
  6. Casting off songs entirely for 17 parts that to their cult make a sum, I was sure this would be the one where I could finally take my other foot off the doorstop....[But] the fresh voices and staged character interplay keep Meloy's pretensions from boiling over, and loathe as I am to admit, two of the four title tracks culminate in something like hooks.
  7. Enough happens musically on The Hazards of Love that I can still see it being fun for fans in a live setting, especially if you know the lyrics. On disc, though, it's largely missing the catchy choruses and verisimilar emotions that previously served as ballast for the Decemberists' gaudy eccentricities.
  8. True, it is also the kind of soaring, gleefully overwrought, overproduced, folk pop that drive detractors to acts of libelous message board violence and depravity. But if "inauthentic" means commercial then it should be noted that Hazards is essentially the definition of a passion project.
  9. The Hazards of Love is shockingly good.
  10. 80
    The album sound stultifying, but this is far from the case, thanks to a steady stream of surprises and a depth of detail that reveals itself incrementally.
  11. Hazards of Love won't convert anybody who already wrote the band off as overly precious bookworms with a Morrissey/Victorian ghost story fetish, but fans who have dutifully followed the Decemberists since their 2002 debut get to take home bragging rights this time around.
  12. The result is both classic Decemberists--all folk pop whimsy wrapped up in darker lyrics than their surface suggests--and a new direction, using the '60s/early '70s folk foundations to follow their logical path into that odd corner of the English genre that somehow crossed over with Heavy Metal.
  13. This song cycle concerning Margaret, her swain William and forest queens is as dazzling as it is beautiful.
  14. There are certainly enough good things about the album to let its more infuriating conceits pass.
  15. The album is still frequently guilty of some of the shortcomings that have plagued the band since "Picaresque."
  16. 50
    The Hazards of Love feels like a gambit, with the Decemberists betting that increased bombast and literary aspiration will make up for decreased attention to pop craft. It's a hazardous bet that yields spectacular sparks but ultimately asks for much more than it's willing to give.
  17. Hazards of Love personifies potentially workable songs eaten away by overwhelmingly ill-conceived ambition.
  18. Meloy's touchstones form one of the Decemberists' best, precise diction; moody, compelling melodies in glorious arrangements; and elegant phrasing dripping like honey off the tongue.
  19. His plot is so preposterous and unempathetic it's more the appearance of a plot, or an elaborate joke about a plot.
  20. Hazards of Love drowns in convoluted plots, blustery guest vocalists, and comically out-of-place guitar shredding.
  21. The group continues their fantastic, totally unique song structures, lyrics and instrumentation, resulting in the next evolution of a Decemberists album, and it does not disappoint.
  22. Despite Meloy's lofty vocabulary and penchant for themes of antiquity, Decemberists albums are consistently generous with great tunes and charm, and "The Hazards of Love" is no different.
  23. It's a far-reaching and ambitious album, stronger than its predecessor and full of gallant wordplay and vivid imagery.
  24. Listening to The Hazards of Love is thrilling, both because of the music itself and because the disc was such a sheer gamble from the first. Improbable as it seems, they just might pull it off.
  25. Where past Decemberists albums rewarded delving deeply into the milieu The Decemberists had created, Hazards of Love fails to provide much worth that probing.
  26. The real surprise of The Hazards Of Love is how well it works as a straight-up rock album.
  27. 80
    By turns acoustic intimate and theatrical-loud, this spellbinding work peaks and soars with all the warmth and wonder of some great romantic adventure, demanding and rewarding total immersion in its magical narrative. [May 2009, p.110]
  28. Robyn Hitcock, My Morning Jacket's Jim James and, taking the female characters' voices, Becky Stark and Shara Worden, are among those fleshing out the band, but all are no more than support to Colin Meloy and his very singular vision--and what a glorious big, bold and entirely bonkers one it is. [Apr 2009, p.104]
  29. Don't worry about it being a chore; after devouring the album in its entirety almost a dozen times, we're still craving more. [May 2009, p.120]
  30. 40
    The Hazrds Of Love is a medieval romance that feels like homework. [Apr 2009, p.80]
  31. 74
    The Harzards Of Love is an unbelievable show, but its director should have spent more time on the script and less on the pomp and circumstance. [Winter 2009, p.90]
User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 87 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  1. MarcusH
    Jul 20, 2009
    10
    A work of sheet insane genius. I'm as gob-smacked on the 100th listen as the 1st -- even more so. This is a truly brilliant creation of A work of sheet insane genius. I'm as gob-smacked on the 100th listen as the 1st -- even more so. This is a truly brilliant creation of fine art and good ol' rock n roll. Full Review »
  2. JeffP
    Jul 8, 2009
    10
    Colin has balls, he actually believes you can write songs that mirror the most tragic aspects of our society and make them hit home with the Colin has balls, he actually believes you can write songs that mirror the most tragic aspects of our society and make them hit home with the average 10 second attention span of today's listeners, something only Cobain has gotten away with in the last twenty years. An earlier User's comment alikened HOL to Thick as a Brick, I found this true from the first listen. The span of styles is amazing, the instrumentation superb, the story a sad comment on the degeneration of parenting skills. Just a treasure to get lost in. Full Review »
  3. MattA
    Mar 26, 2009
    9
    I will just start by saying that those who say that this "Isn't a decemberists album" are completely and utterly wrong... besides the I will just start by saying that those who say that this "Isn't a decemberists album" are completely and utterly wrong... besides the fact that it's on the cover. The decemberists have been known to try new sounds, riffs, melodies and other means to match Colin Meloy's ambitons. The Hazards of Love is as close to a "Rock Opera" as we're are going to get now-a-days, and for that, i humbly applaude Colin for taking a risk and creating a fresh experience in these modern times. Now, i have to say that i am a HUGE decemberists fan, so i may be a bit biased in my review. However, being a fan, i can say that this album is not for everyone. It's very complex, emotionally driven, and one can't get singles from it... easily... The album is, However, very cohesive and succeeds in building and releasing in moments to create a full fledged story element, climax and all. If you are going to listen to this album, do it in one sitting... or on the car ride to and from work. It takes about an hour. I won't guarantee that all will like it, but if you've ever liked the decemberists and understand their lore and style...then enjoy. Listen to "The Tain" if you want a similar experience by the same band... consider it the "short film" to the "feature length." Full Review »