Colin Meloy in 2005 / photo by David Greenwald
The titular track of the Decemberists’ forthcoming Hazards of Love — purportedly a concept album Gothic in more of a musty castles and wailing deaths kind of way than a Hot Topic one — sounds more like the Decemberists than the band has, well, since they signed to a major label. I interviewed frontman Colin Meloy in summer 2007 for Entertainment Weekly and the first thing he said, to the publicist connecting us, was, “How long is this interview?” “I have down 30 minutes.” “I thought it was 15.” He was eloquent and respectful enough in the interview proper, but after that exchange, I couldn’t help getting the feeling that the band I’d seen play some four years earlier to a half-empty pizza place full of lonely pre-Garden State indie kids at UCLA had up and become sloppy rock stars. It didn’t help that 2006’s The Crane Wife was the lone stumble of the band’s hot streak of a discography. But now, sweet relief. “Hazards of Love” and the previously released-on-MySpace “The Rake’s Song” find the band sounding hungry and purposeful again, even as they find their footing on new ground (ground that doesn’t sound like Fleetwood Mac). As the decade ends, perhaps one of its formerly best new bands will be so again. Knowing Mr. Meloy, there’s probably a song in a story like that.
The Decemberists – “Hazards of Love”: stream
Previously: Bootleg: Colin Meloy at The Zoo, 8.10.05
2009: Nothing but glory. Click below for more or visit the 2009 Album Release Calendar for a full listing of this year’s music.