Arts: Decemberists’ “The Hazards of Love” not for the faint of heart

In the age of iTunes and picking and choosing single tracks from albums, it is easy to forget how great it once felt to listen to  and fully appreciate an album from start to finish.The Decemberists’ new release, “The Hazards of Love,” reawakens this dormant desire and is an extremely welcome cure for the iTunes lovers’ self-afflicted case of “music ADD.””Hazards” is the Portland- based band’s fifth LP and their follow-up album to 2006’s “The Crane Wife.”Lead singer/songwriter Colin Meloy weaves together a fantastical rock opera tale surrounding a woman named Margaret, the shapeshifting animal that ravages her, her lover William, a forest queen and a ruthless rake.The style of the lyrics on this album will sound familiar to Decemberists fans in that the subject matter is darker than Meloy’s melodic vocals suggest.The folk-rock sound on tracks like “The Hazards of Love 1” and “Annan Water,” along with the acoustic guitar and accordion on “Isn’t It a Lovely Night” are classic examples of where The Decemberists have been on past albums.However, “A Bower Scene” and “Won’t Want for Love” soon reveal that “Hazards” is about to take listeners on an intense musical thrill ride that explores the awesome potential of one of the most remarkably innovative bands today.Tracks such as “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid” boast some Jack White-esque guitar riffs and is a true testament to the bands’ talent of combining several genres of music into one complete and unique sound.The folk/heavy-rock sound of “Hazards” are an archetypal example of the true power and force that The Decemberists bring to their music as well as a reaffirmation that the band has no creative limits.The only question is, is your heart strong enough to fully appreciate “The Hazards of Love?”