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Lit-rock pansies The Decemberists release The Hazards Of Love, their follow-up to 2006’s omni-directional The Crane Wife which saw the band reach new heights of smugness, shifting in excess of 300,000 copies in the States alone. With their fifth full-length album due for release in the UK through Rough Trade on March 23rd, the Portland-based quintet of Colin Meloy, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query and John Moen take the prog-rock antics and tender balladry of The Crane Wife one step further by turning The Hazards Of Love into a 17-song suite, recorded with the band’s longtime producer, Tucker Martine, and is “rooted in ancient language and imagery, yet entirely modern and accessible”.  How very Meloy…

The Hazards Of Love tells the tale of a woman named Margaret who is ravaged by a shape-shifting animal; her lover, William; a forest queen; and a cold-blooded, lascivious rake, who recounts with spine-tingling ease how he came “to be living so easy and free” in the “The Rake’s Song.” Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden deliver the lead vocals for the female characters, while My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock and the Spinanes’ Rebecca Gates appear in supporting roles. The range of sounds reflects the characters’ arcs, from the accordion’s singsong lilt in “Isn’t it a Lovely Night?” to the heavy metal thunder of “The Queen’s Rebuke/The Crossing.”

“There’s an odd bond between the music of the British folk revival and classic metal,” says Meloy. “A natural connection between, like, Fairport Convention and Black Sabbath – of course, Sandy Denny from Fairport even sang with Led Zeppelin on ‘The Battle of Evermore.’ I think there’s a shared sense of narrative and ambience, of moving beyond the first person in your writing. And I thought it would be interesting to mess around with that.”

The track listing for The Hazards Of Love is as follows:

1. Prelude
2. The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone)
3. A Bower Scene
4. Won’t Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)
5. The Hazards of Love 2 (Wager All)
6. The Queen’s Approach
7. Isn’t it a Lovely Night?
8. The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid
9. An Interlude
10. The Rake’s Song
11. The Abduction of Margaret
12. The Queen’s Rebuke / The Crossing
13. Annan Water
14. Margaret in Captivity
15. The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)
16. The Wanting Comes in Waves (Reprise)
17. The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)